By Nancy Benet
LOGOS NEWS EDITOR
More than 200 University of the Incarnate Word students and some faculty and staff spent Friday, Sept. 16, engaged in the 11th annual “Meet the Mission” day for community service.
Meeting as early as 7:30 that morning at Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center, they left in two waves for their designated community partner sites.
The day of September service, which allowed participating students to earn nearly seven hours toward the 45 community service hours required for graduation, is organized and sponsored by the Office of Mission and Ministry, under the leadership of Sister Walter Maher, its vice president. The event encourages students and faculty to learn more about the service portion of the university’s mission by engaging in service around the San Antonio community.
Since it started, the event has grown to attract over 200 members of the university that deploy to over 20 community partner sites. This year, more than 200 students and faculty attended the event and provided 1,500 hours of service.
Students swiped their IDs at the start of the event to receive community service hours before joining their designated group for breakfast tacos and refreshments. After a short prayer, and presentation introducing the event, tables were called out one by one to head to their partner site on UIW shuttles.
Among these community partner sites were repeating participants, such as Travis Park United Methodist Church, St. PJs Children Home, the Salvation Army, and Inner City Development. Many of these sites were religious institutions, such as the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio. Students have been collaborating with this organization the past five years
Organizations such as the UIW Business Club, synchronized swimming, women’s basketball, and various classes led by their professors went to these sites and participated in activities such as shoe drives, building gardens, and touching up playgrounds.
Some students led by Dr. Lopita Nath, an associate professor of history and chair of her department, helped refugee clients of Catholic Charities learn English by practicing conversation skills, playing games, and reading.
“The biology club visited the San Antonio Missions located on the south side of town, and we went to Mission Concepcion. We got a quick tour of the mission before we started gardening in the Grotto,” Marina Alexis Rodriguez, biology club member said. “By working on the grotto, my team and I were able to bring more beauty and life for the mission to continue on bringing the rich culture and faith that is stored in it to all its future visitors.”
When all activities were completed, students and faculty met back at school for pizza, refreshments, and some reflection time. Almost all organizations engaged in a reflection of their activities and expressed their feelings toward the service they did earlier that day.
Every year, students and faculty use social media to share their experience. This year was no different. They shared their new “Meet the Mission” memories on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, seeming very satisfied and grateful for the opportunity to serve the communities in San Antonio.