What good can one day of service do? At some point or another, you have most likely participated in a one-day service event and experienced skepticism about the value in the amount of help you provided or the good you did.
Marquette will celebrate Make A Difference Day Saturday. Registered volunteers will spend a few hours helping people in the community prepare their homes for winter.
Marquette was founded on service, and students have always been eager to participate. Still, some maintain doubt about one-day service events because they believe they are not conducive to sustainable solutions nor foster the development of lasting relationships with those being served. Doubt, skepticism and cynicism are understandable and healthy to a certain extent, but the focus needs to shift toward the good that one day of service is capable of doing.
One day of service offers immediate alleviation to those in need. Considering Make A Difference Day, helping families prepare their homes for winter is not necessarily sustainable in the long term, but the community’s immediate seasonal needs are met thanks to the individuals who gave up their Saturday morning to help.
To serve and be served risks vulnerability and exposure on either side. Those who are served are often grateful for the help of others, but to say the appreciation is set apart from shame, the feeling of perceived weakness, or the inability to help themselves would be a lie.
Those who serve are exposed to realities, which before that point, only existed in realistic fiction novels. At times, truth is stranger – harsher even – than fiction. One day of service allows individuals to gain awareness of the kinds of lives that are being lived every day that would not have been known otherwise.
Can you think of a time when you signed up for a day of service for the purpose of fulfilling service hours, or a friend’s request for you to join them? At the time, the decision was likely full of reluctance, but the experience might cross your mind often: the place you served, the emotions you felt and the people you met. Maybe now you volunteer there regularly or have been returning to a place of service since your freshman year Urban Connection experience.
Marquette is fairly strategic with one-day service events and goes beyond providing an opportunity to serve and necessary transportation that comes with it. The reflections afterward create dedicated space and time to process and explore the service experience in communion with other participants.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual to take further steps, whether that means changing one’s mindset about serving others, engaging in service more regularly, or continuing relationships with the people they met during the event.
When done right, service goals can be met in one day. Present sufferings and problems can temporarily be put to rest, which in some cases is the only thing those in need truly desire. Service is service, and whether done by choice or with reluctance, the people who are helped will benefit.
At its essence, a one-day service event plants many seeds. Service experiences create awareness of previously unknown realities, which can motivate volunteers to share their learned knowledge with others or involve themselves on a deeper level by serving on a regular basis. Service allows relationships to be built in circumstances that otherwise would not have been possible. What is most rewarding about a one-day service event is that it illuminates the togetherness of people of all sorts, and that makes all the difference.