Community service has been something very important to me from a young age. Starting when I was a little Kindergartener, Girl Scouts began my love for service and volunteering around my community. As I got older, opportunities for service only became more abundant and available to me as I was able to volunteer in middle school and high school, which is when I started taking on larger projects in my community. In my freshman year of high school, I led a project where I collected used plastic bags in multiple return boxes around my town. From this collection, I used the bags to make “plarn” balls, which are essentially balls of yarn made from plastic bags. I then donated them to a local Women’s Club, where they used them to crochet blankets/ mats for the homeless out of completely recycled and sanitized plastic bags. This is just one of the many service projects that stand out to me from my high school years. 

         Because service was so important to me throughout my life, Salve immediately stood out when touring colleges because of the innumerable and diverse service options that I could take part in. The idea of showing mercy through service was one of the driving factors behind my decision to attend college here. 

After my decision, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in the Service Plunge before the start of my freshman year. The Service Plunge is a week-long service immersion for freshmen, led by seniors experienced in Salve service, in which we visit many community partners to get a feel for different service opportunities at Salve. This year, we visited partners such as Norman Bird Sanctuary, God’s Community Garden, Revive the Roots, Gifts to Give, Dare to Dream Ranch, Donovan Manor, and Clean Ocean Access. By participating in the plunge, I learned all about the Service Advocate program that Salve offers, and I was immediately interested.  

The plunge was a great eye-opening experience, and I was ready to continue my love for service by volunteering at Sammy’s After School Program, which is for students from Thompson Middle School in Newport, RI. As an Elementary/ Special Education major, having the opportunity to work with kids twice a week is something that has been extremely helpful and relevant for me. I am grateful to be one of four coordinators for the program this year, as it has given me access to planning lessons and activities for the middle schoolers each week. Seeing the students’ engagement and enthusiasm for the activities we plan for them is so rewarding, and it makes me even more excited for my future as a teacher. The students have a great time, as our goal for the program is to make it a structured time for them to decompress, be creative, and socialize after a long day at school.  

While I have only been at Salve for a little more than a month, I can confidently say that my participation in service has been one of my favorite parts so far. I am excited to continue my work with Sammy’s After School Program for the rest of this year, and hopefully take part in the Service Plunge 2.0 in April. I am so thankful for the opportunities that Salve service has provided me so far, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.