Students reflect on Vincentian mission at 1L Service Day

The College of Law held its third annual 1L Service Day on Friday, August 22. This year’s service day brought in just under 70 volunteers, a record number of participants. The College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and University Ministry in the Loop organized the 1L Service Day, with support from the Center for Public Interest Law.

Interim Dean Bruce Ottley and PBCSI Director Cheryl Price welcomed the 1L volunteers, many of whom congregated not just for the chance to participate in works of service, but also to make new friends, meet faculty members and explore Chicago.

College of Law Chaplain Tom Judge started by asking staff, faculty and student site leaders to stand and discuss what motivates them to give service. Answers ranged from "a sense of gratitude" to simply, "it's the right thing to do." Shaye Loughlin, executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law, defined service as a family value handed down from the Greatest Generation.

Students then departed for one of six service sites: Pacific Garden Mission, Cornerstone Community Outreach, Marillac House, Legal Prep Charter Academy, Catholic Charities Bishop Conway Residence and Little Brothers/ Friends of the Elderly. 

At homeless shelters Pacific Garden Mission and Cornerstone Community Outreach, students helped make beds, organize clothing donations and serve meals. Marillac House, a site with countless social services, gave students the opportunity to play with preschoolers and clean out a closet in preparation for a move.

Student volunteers at Legal Prep Charter Academy got to work painting classrooms and organizing the library. The students at Catholic Charities Bishop Conway Residence visited with seniors. Lastly, the students at Little Brothers/Friends of the Elderly worked in a food pantry, prepared holiday ornaments, and decorated Thanksgiving food bags for the seniors. It was a day of varied and valuable work.

During the lunch break, service day site leaders readdressed the importance of service and discussed its impact on all parties involved. The site leaders were second- and third-year law students, as well as law staff and faculty. Many 1L students said they found the day to be extremely meaningful.

As Chelsea Geiger (JD ‘17) said, “The service day meant connecting with other students and faculty, the community, and the opportunities available to me as a DePaul student. I got to know a few of my classmates on a more personal level than just at orientation. I learned of an organization I had no prior knowledge of and who are doing great things around Chicago. I also discovered what DePaul could provide for me besides a legal education and how, combined, we could make a difference."

Alyssa Bisanz (JD ‘17) added that the 1L Service Day “captured the essence of community spirit. Between collaboration and compassion, we were able to leave a positive footprint, as we upheld the DePaul brand, and served alongside with and for the neighbors of our community. This activity was the perfect way for me to start off my school year.”