Post on behalf of Cassie Martucci
For many Siena students, SIENAserves Community Service Day, hosted by the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy, is a highly anticipated event. Last April, over 100 students gathered to give back to the local community by donating their time to organizations such as Camp Scully, LaSalle Institute, and Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. In an effort to expand upon this exciting day of volunteering, the Franciscan Center also offers a series of service opportunities throughout each semester called Service Saturdays.
Service Saturdays allow students a chance to aid and interact with marginalized communities in and around the Capital Region. The Franciscan Center aims to organize one or two volunteer opportunities per month in accordance with the demands of our community partners. Each Service Saturday is dedicated to serving 4-5 hours at a partner agency, assisting with special needs projects designated by the agency. In the past, the Franciscan Center has partnered with non-profits like the Capital City Rescue Mission, Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, and Grassroot Givers to provide invaluable support services. On any given Service Saturday, students might find themselves cooking and baking, assisting in yard work, or cleaning and organizing. The assistance we provide to others very much depends on the agency and the necessities of those they serve. No matter the agency, though, a day spent volunteering on Service Saturday leaves students feeling humbled and gratified knowing that their efforts are serving those who need it the most.
The first Service Saturday of the Spring 2020 semester was held on February 15th at the Ronald McDonald House of Albany. The Ronald McDonald House provides comfortable living accomodations for families with children who are facing a serious medical crisis and require treatment away from home. Since their founding, Ronald McDonald House has served over 10 million families worldwide in their houses. In Albany alone, the Ronald McDonald House serves more than 650 families per year. With 25 guest rooms, a living space, full kitchen, medical resource library, and a group of dedicated volunteers, the Ronald McDonald House of Albany enures that it has the facilities to assist its guests in the best way possible. Four Franciscan Center volunteers became a part of this mission two weeks ago when they visited the house. In accordance with the organization’s meal program, Siena volunteers used the on-site kitchen to prepare a delicious home-cooked meal for all guests to enjoy. In donating their time to cook, Ronald McDonald House volunteers aim to alleviate the stress that guest families face when going through this difficult period in their lives, instilling a sense of support from the local community in the process.
Last Saturday, February 22, Franciscan Center volunteers were once again contributing their time and effort to the local community, this time at Joseph’s House and Shelter in Troy. Joseph’s House is essential to the Troy community as they offer emergency shelter and support services to an average of 1,700 men, women, and children each year. The Franciscan Center has worked closely with Joseph’s House in the past and is committed to their mission of offering non-judgemental services in an endeavor to end homelessness. While there, students aided in unpackaging, stocking, and organizing the agency’s storage room and pantry with food and item donations.
Students who are interested in participating in future Service Saturdays can expect many smiles, laughs, and enriching experiences. Please reach out to Judy Dougherty, the Director of the Franciscan Center, if you have any questions or concerns, or would like to become a volunteer and make a difference in the lives of others.