Community Service Program Thrives Through Adversity
Despite the many limitations imposed by the pandemic, Julia del Papa, Director of Community Service, Religious Life, and Multiculturalism, managed to maintain an effective Community Service Program that sought to improve the community and engage students during the Spring 2021 semester. The 60 students who volunteered continued to deliver important services to JCU’s partner organizations throughout the semester, completing over 630 hours of community service.
The Community Service Program’s slogan is: “I C-A-R-E!” which stands for “Community, Awareness, Respect, and Empowerment.” The Program offers many different service opportunities throughout the semester and also gives students the possibility to earn an official Certificate of Participation for volunteering with the program’s affiliated associations.
Pandemic’s Effect on Community Service
The JCU Community Service Program partnered with nearby schools to provide one-on-one virtual English support to many students struggling with fatigue from online lessons. Volunteers from JCU were able to virtually mentor and tutor many students from Italian schools. The virtual teaching program has been so successful due to its unique ability to allow people to connect from various parts of the world, that Del Papa believes it will also be offered in the future.
Additionally, the Community Service Program organized 3 socially distanced environmental cleanups in Trastevere. This activity was a great opportunity for students to be back together. “Students were excited to do something purposeful during COVID because there wasn’t much else to do,” said Del Papa. Many residents of Trastevere greatly appreciated seeing the JCU students clean up the neighborhood. Lastly, the Community Service Program organized food donations. Early in the morning, Del Papa went to the supermarket with some students to buy food and then distribute it to people in need in the area.
When asked about virtual activities, Del Papa stated that “it is hard to replace the magic of human interaction of community service with a screen.” However, with determination and innovative thinking, Del Papa continues to find ways to maintain JCU’s Community Service Program through trying times.