I used to do service all the time. I was a member of Student Council in high school and volunteered my time at food pantries, blood drives, charity walks… the works.
It was the cool thing to do in high school, at least to me. I wanted to bulk up my resume for college applications and spend time with friends in a constructive environment. We also got taken out of class at least twice a month for meetings and activities.
Somewhere in there, the reason to volunteer, to help people, was lost in translation.My selfishness continued into college. La Salle is a Catholic institution founded on the pillars of charity and I don’t do anything that doesn’t support my *future* career. Most of my friends are heavily involved in service, but volunteering doesn’t fit into my schedule. How horrible of a statement is that?
Enough about me, though. No more first person pronouns. Let me
(last one I swear) compensate for my lack of community-involvement and volunteerism by using this blog to educate the internet about one of the most successful and helpful service groups at La Salle: Pheed Philadelphia.
Pheed Philly is an outreach group that formed at La Salle in 2007. Five days a week, members of the group visit one of the four sites Pheed works with (St. Francis Soup Kitchen, the Face-to-Face program at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Blessed Sarnelli Community, and Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission). Basically, there’s no way to use time as an excuse not to participate. Way to be, Cody, you selfish guppy.
A bit more about St. Francis Soup Kitchen
They’re revolutionizing the typical conveyor belt serving model. They have clients sit down, they have volunteers sit down, they foster relationships, they promote community. It’s not about meeting the meal quota. It’s not about optimizing efficiency. It’s about the people. It’s extensively more dignified, so much so that Blessed Sarnelli and Face-to-Face hopped on board.
This personalized experience also allows for the members of Pheed to interact with the clients and comprehend their real needs. And who wouldn’t love to be humbled by a homeless person’s life story? Through conversation, the coordinators realized that a number of the clients wished there were programs in place to brush up on their literacy. Soon enough, Pheed is going to begin offering classes at the sites they volunteer at.
“They’re most resilient group of people I’ve come into contact with. I learn so much more than I do when in the confines of my classroom” – Molly Mahon, Pheed Senior Coordinator
Hunger in Philadelphia, as expressed by the need for the dedicated service of organizations like Pheed, is an epidemic. In 2010, more than 411,000 residents received aid from a food pantry. In 2011, more than 464,000 Philadelphia residents relied on food stamps (source). In 2013, Philadelphia was 22% food insecure. And hunger is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re hungry, your focus diminishes. As a child, your performance in school falters. As an adult, work (if you even have a job) becomes a draining and straining experience. It’s an endless cycle of doom, basically. Thankfully, Pheed is the superhero needed to combat to Philadelphia’s kryptonite.