The American Dream Reconsidered Conference provided an opportunity to students and staff to take part in a day of service. In furthering a mission of social justice, participants volunteered their time and hands to help feed the community, clean-up Roosevelt’s rooftop gardens, write letters to Senators in support of funding the International Affairs Budget, and assemble food packs at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Participation from the Roosevelt community was phenomenal! We’re thrilled to share with you the experience of Efren A., a staff member in the Center for Student Involvement and a student in the Criminal Justice program. Efren participated in the off-campus service opportunity to the Greater Chicago Depository. We sat down for a Q&A with Efren who gave a first-hand account of the event.
Q: What was volunteering at the Greater Chicago Depository like?
Efren: There were around fifteen volunteers for this event broken into several groups. When we got to the Depository warehouse (transportation was provided), every volunteer was given a plastic gown, hair net, and gloves. We’d be handling food, so they made sure we wore the right attire. My group was assigned to handle pears. We all washed our hands and were given different jobs to do. One person loaded the pears onto the table, another netted the pairs (around six to a net) and tossed the rotting or bad pieces away, another person took the netted bags and put them in boxes, the boxes were taken by another person to a palate where’d they be sent out for delivery to different agencies and food pantries. We switched jobs every 45 minutes and worked for 2 ½ hours. It felt like I was working in a factory line; everyone had their job to do and we worked together as a team. In the end, we filled 237 boxes.
What did you learn from participating?
Overall, it was tiring, but I felt like I was making a difference. Besides giving back to the community, I learned a lot about team work. We were all on the same page, and everyone was happy. It didn’t matter what position you held at Roosevelt, whether clerical or in the Provost’s office, everyone came together. Afterwards, when we were told how many boxes we’d packaged, it felt good because I knew people would have food to put on their tables because of what we’d accomplished.
Advice to students who want to participate in volunteer work?
Totally do it; I’d recommend it to anyone. Besides something to put on your resume, it’s a rewarding experience. You get to be part of a team and learn team-building skills. Volunteering doesn’t have to be the same thing. You can package food like I did, or participate in American Cancer Society walks, or serve at a soup kitchen.
To learn more Service Day, please visit the event website: https://americandreamconference.com/service-day/