Service is one of the most important aspects of student life within the St. John’s community. It is a cornerstone of the Lasallian tradition where seniors have the chance to make their final high school mark on their parish or greater community through service.
Students from St. John’s students travel all over the area and the nation to help others in various ways. Activities range from helping one’s family, faith community, and even greater community. Students can give further assistance on school sponsored service trips that travel all over the country. From New Jersey to Mississippi to Montana to Houston, St. John’s has truly made a difference as a community.
Each spring break and summer, a team of students joins two teachers to form a close knit team and travel to these places in order to serve others while forming a unitary bond with God, each other, and the people they serve. By the end of the trip, it is often a bittersweet situation where the family-like team is sad to part because of the unforgettable bonds formed through their experiences.
One of the mottos of the De La Salle Christian Brothers tradition is “Enter to learn, leave to serve.” This is the definitive mission of the Lasallian tradition at St. John’s, and by completing service for others each year, students prepare for a future of serving the world to the best of their ability.
When Ms. Emery spoke about the types of service people have done in the past, she said, “Some of the common places tend to be soup kitchens. Students like to help people who are directly in need or facing homelessness or extreme poverty. It’s the traditional type of service.” She explained that people find a greater reward in seeing their service make an immediate difference. “People realize that in soup kitchens, people have no freedom to eat whatever and whenever they want.”
Some places students typically visit are Martha’s Table and So Others May Eat (SOME). Ms. Emery said that these organizations have relied heavily on support from St. John’s students in recent years because of the school’s strong presence. In serving at these organizations, the community is able to feed the poor, as in hungry people, as well as the poor in spirit. Ms. Emery also told me that “students who may have a particular passion for sports, for example, may help with Special Olympics activities.”
Students working with disabled individuals help foster a greater sense of diversity between two otherwise different communities. Service is a counter to the notion that some people are worth less than others based on their socioeconomic status or situation; you are valuable and worthy in the image of God because you exist and are good.
To Bryce Galey ’19, service is seeing the eyes of God in the homeless. “When I went to SOME, it felt extremely rewarding to see the people there eating the food I had prepared and I formed bonds with the homeless that I will never forget,” Galey said.
Senior Nate Rutledge thinks that service can be done in many ways, even as simple as feeding those who cannot afford their next meal. “I fostered a friendship with a homeless man who lived under a DC bridge after giving him food,” Rutledge said. “It was interesting to see the homeless in a more humanized light.”