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"When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change."

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Starting another semester of service

Welcome back, Marquette! I can’t tell you how excited we are to be back in the Center for Community Service. We are ready and willing to help connect you to any service opportunity or organization with which you would like to work, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Now, if any of you are like me, I can only imagine that the beginning of your semester has hit you full speed ahead. There are new classes to consider, new professors to engage, new friends to meet, and countless new experiences to explore. It’s important as all of these opportunities come rushing toward us that we recognize our own passions, desires, motivations, and limitations. That’s the only way we’re going to accomplish what we are truly meant to do, right? We have to have a goal and a purpose in order to reach the desired end and perhaps, this is the semester that becoming involved in community service and volunteer work can be that passion, that purpose, that motivation.

Whether you have already explored the Milwaukee community with the lens of community service or you are eager to adopt that vision as part of your Marquette experience, I encourage your to consider deepening your commitment to our city and our community this semester. There are opportunities available for every desired level of commitment and you can always change your mind as you test the various options.

As you discern your involvement in volunteer work this semester, keep these five things in mind – the “Five Keys to Unlocking a Successful Year of Community Service.”

  1. Service is more than just physical work.  Service necessitates a ministry of presence.
  2. Service is not something you can accomplish on your own; it’s not something you do by yourself. Service is about building community, among those who volunteer and among those you meet.
  3. Service must start with an attitude of openness – only then can you accept the reality that service can invite you into a greater awareness of yourself and those around you.
  4. A spectrum of service really does exist. Give what you can, when you can, and however you can. Commit to giving an effort first and foremost.
  5. Service can (and will) change you – as long as you allow it to do so. 

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Hello incoming freshmen!

I know what it’s like to be in your shoes. I remember that crazy imbalance between excitement and anxiety about starting college. It really is an exciting time in your life, embrace it and enjoy it. College goes by way too fast. But, there’s an even more important piece of Marquette wisdom that I want to share with you and that’s this: take advantage of every Marquette involvement opportunity that comes your way, starting now.

I mean it – Marquette and Milwaukee have so much to offer and recognizing that and partaking in those opportunities starts now.

One of these unique opportunities – Urban Connection – happens on the Saturday morning of Orientation week and in case you don’t know anything about it, let me share a little bit about the incredible experiences you’ll have if you choose to participate.

Urban Connection is one of my favorite Marquette events of all time because it is the first chance that you as incoming students really get the change to engage some core Marquette ideals, like what it means to be a student at a university built on a pillar of service and what it can mean to “be the difference.” And, that’s a pretty amazing thing. Urban Connection is one of those experiences that can shape your entire Marquette experience and, as you’ll come to realize when you get to campus, defining who you will be at Marquette is as important as signing up for classes and doing your homework.

During Urban Connection (Saturday, August 23 from 9 AM – 2 PM), you will volunteer in the city of Milwaukee in various ways with a team of your fellow incoming students and an Orientation Staff member (like me). And, while there will be Marquette Orientation magic happening throughout that week, I have no doubt that Urban Connection is the perfect way to get a grip on what service really is and why it’s such a fundamental part of a Marquette education. Whether you are assisting with a local neighborhood clean-up or organizing clothes donations at a shelter for the homeless, you as an Urban Connection volunteer have an incredible opportunity to build community, to engage in conversation, and to build a better relationship between Marquette and Milwaukee. And, as an added bonus, you’ll be meeting A TON of other incoming students interested in making a difference and getting connected to the Center for Community Service (a great resource if you want to get involved in service at Marquette).

Trust me. After serving with the Marquette and Milwaukee community all morning and reflecting on your experiences, you’ll head back to your dorm or out to Central Mall with a new group of friends, a wealth of memorable experiences, and perhaps even a new perspective on service.   And, in case you still need some convincing, here’s a true statement. I have registered (and participated in) Urban Connection every year for four years. And, I wouldn’t have signed up if I had any doubts about how awesome it would be.

So, if you are interested in getting involved in service at Marquette, if you enjoy volunteer work, or if you want to meet some other new, engaging incoming students, sign up for Urban Connection. You can click here to register and if you’d like more information. I can’t wait to see you all on campus! 

- Brittany White

Center for Community Service Program Assistant & Orientation Team Leader

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Why do we serve?

So back when the Center for Community Service started its blog (in August), I began drafting a post with this question as its title, hoping this would set a foundation for how the Center’s blog would encourage students to engage in the necessary “reflection” element of participation in community service.

And, you know what?

I haven’t been able to write this post until now, and in case you were wondering, it’s April. Yes, April. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, especially as I consider where my time at Marquette has taken me and where it can take me because of the manner in which I have tied my participation in community service to the work that I do in the classroom and at work and as a leader on this campus.

In the past few months, I have tried to open this saved draft and write some perfect, little description of the importance of community service in my life and in our lives as students. But, each time I tried to come back to this question - no matter how long I’d spent reflecting on it in my life outside of my job here at the Center for Community Service, I found myself inevitably staring at a blank screen, completely stumped as to how I could answer this question.

And, that inability to answer what should have been an easy question for me to answer really frustrated me. As an active volunteer and a staff member of the CCS, I thought I would be able to come up with some concise, pithy phrase about how community service has impacted my life and give a perfect, comprehensive explanation of the reasons why I choose to participate in it.

But, I’ve had a hard time with this. Not because I do not have reasons for volunteering or not because I don’t want to acknowledge those reasons, but because trying to explain those reasons in a comprehensive manner through the written word is incredibly difficult. The past three years of extensive service involvement have taught me a lot more than how to wrap a meal that will be sent out to HeartLove Place or how to engage in conversation at Noon Run or how to lead other students in a service experience. They have taught me to recognize a new aspect of myself and helped me to develop a new vision, a new goal for how I want to contribute to my Marquette and Milwaukee community.

My reasons for participating in community service continue to change with each service experience I have, with each conversation I am blessed to engage in, and with my continued reflections on my desire to make service the heart of my lifestyle, rather than just something I participate in during my free time. But, I can’t say that there aren’t reasons for my participation in community service that haven’t threaded through every experience I’ve had - whether I recognized it then or not.

So, when I think about why I serve, I can’t help but say that I serve because of the following thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I hope you can relate to some of them and if not, I hope you consider practicing some reflection on your service work so that you can begin to define for yourself what drives you, what empowers you, and what encourages you to participate in community service.

1. We serve because we’ve fallen in love. We love the people with whom we serve, we love the work that the organizations accomplish on a daily basis. We love the stories that we hear. We love becoming part of something that is good, something that really seems to matter.

2. We serve because we hope to learn something new. We want to learn about the people we are walking with throughout out service experiences. We want to learn about the injustices that the communities we are serving have to face. We want to learn about more ways we can get involved. We want to learn about others. We want to learn about ourselves.

3. We serve because we hope to connect to the community. We serve because we hope to connect the parts of the world that seem lost, broken, and unjust. We serve because we hope to connect ourselves to something meaningful, something that will impact us in a profound way.

4. We serve because we find something life-giving in the process of meeting someone where they are in their journey of life. We find it life-giving to sweat all day and be covered in mud after a day rebuilding homes. We find it life-giving to see the face of someone hungry as he receives food. We find it life-giving to share in that hunger. We find it life-giving to fight against ignorance and injustice. We find it life-giving to see the world at greater peace, even if just for a few moments, and to know that we participated in contributing to that peace.

5. Finally, we serve because we believe that we can do something and that we can do it very well. And, we believe that the something that we can do is dare to be something and do something more for and with others.

peace.

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April is National Volunteer Month!

How will you celebrate this month of volunteering? 

Yes, I know the semester is coming rapidly to an end and you are probably trying to wind down and let go of some of your extra commitments. But, can I pose a challenge? 

Since you’ve been doing some spring cleaning in your schedule, you’ve made room to start giving back to others in our community. And, the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee has some awesome ways for you to start doing just that.

And, remember, the Center for Community Service is always here to help you connect to our community. We love hearing your service stories and we are always looking for more to post here on our blog, so if you’ve got a service story or two, you know where you can share it.

In the meantime, be sure to check out this list of opportunities.

peace. 

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