Thursday, March 8, 2012

The calling of service...

By: Angie Funnell 

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand” --Chinese Proverb
The Center for Community Action and Service Learning (CCASL) reflects the values of community, hearth, justice, respect, transformation, and creativity. “Service requires people. Students and staff lead the programs, working with 150 community partners and volunteers. CCASL is run 50 percent by grants, donations and fund raising, and the university underwrites the rest,” said Director Sima Thorpe, who is fulfilled by sharing her commitment to social justice.

“Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ - for the God-man who lived and died for all the world; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce.”  --Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Superior General of the Society of Jesus 1973, Valencia, Spain
Governed by a holistic Jesuit education, Gonzaga University provides students with the opportunity to explore the realm of service and decipher what service means to them. Assistant Director of University Ministry and Gonzaga Alumni, Michelle Wheatley said, “In terms of the Catholic Church’s view on service, I was always raised to believe that service isn’t something that we do but something that we are, by nature, because of our identity. God’s love inherently contains a mission in it—a mission to love our neighbor, and especially those who are least accounted for in our society.” 

Gonzaga students fulfill their calling to be the men and woman for others by getting involved with mentoring and co-curricular programs. Senior Tiffani Gonzales volunteers her time between CCASL's mentoring program Campus Kids, as well as dedicates her time at the St. Margaret's Day Care. Tiffani said, “For me, service places me in the position that we are brothers and sisters in this world, and that we are called to serve each other. We are the body of Christ, so service is an apparent reminder that we are working as a community to find a universal goal.” Tiffani address the significance of building relationships through the mentoring programs offered through CCASL. From a college student’s perspective, Tiffani explained, “We often get caught up in the rapture of the college life. Being around kids helps center me on the humility that we forget to exude or portray. It’s an important part of the human understanding. You forget to laugh, play, and be jovial.”
Coordinator of the CCASL mentoring programs, Zach Reuter said, “A really important piece about service that I learned over my undergraduate career is that the most effective service is not for others, it is with others. Service is not a job where you punch in and punch out, it should ideally be a time where you look forward to meeting a need or bridging a gap with the people who have called for that service.” Zach highlights the notion of Jesuit service- to be the men and woman for others. Zach said, “We are there to help them feel socially accepted, boost self-esteem, be an ear to listen, and a guide towards success. We may never see the benefit of the couple of hours a week we spend with these students but it may actually pay huge dividends down the road. Taking an honest interest in the people you serve with, sharing in their struggle (and letting them share in yours), shows that you care far more than helping a child with their homework as you constantly check the clock." Zach continued to share that he thought service was an enormous piece of Gonzaga's identity. 

Students desire to be the change they wish see in the world. The Center for Community Action & Service Learning provides Zags with a myriad of opportunities to embrace the social change that occurs when students are involved. For seniors, there are a myriad of post-grad opportunities as well, for more information contact: Molly Ayers at

Visit the CCASL Facebook page to be more involved and website to check out more opportunities for you to be of service!!