Samantha Mueller ’18
Every class at Mercy has at least one retreat day for the year they are in. The sophomore retreat is a service retreat, and that means the day is spent doing work for others. There are two different service days; I went on the day that 5 of the service sites were open. I volunteered at Wesley Chapel Mission Center in Over the Rhine. This organization hosts an after school program that is centered in faith and helping families that need a place for their children to go after school.
There are two buildings involved in running the program. One is a building for younger children (Grades K-4), and one is for the older children (Grades 5-12). The building for the older children is divided in half for the middle and high schoolers. The programs runs from 2:50 to 5:00, and the activities vary for different age groups. One similarity is the fact that both groups participate in bible study. However the children have more games, while the older children have more free time to work on homework. Both are closely supervised regardless of the freedoms they receive.
We went in the morning, so no children were currently on site. We spent most of the service hours cleaning in the children’s room. This involved activities such as scrubbing floors, disinfecting tables and chairs, vacuuming, and general cleaning of all surfaces. This was beneficial in helping to protect the children from viruses.
After our deep cleanse of the children’s center, we headed over to the older children’s space. There is a street to walk down that separates the two facilities. On this walk, a rather unexpected situation occurred. Two young children were walking on the side of the road. These two children were regulars at the Mission Center, and the supervisor leading us made sure to talk to the kids to make sure they were okay. Apparently it had been too cold for them to go to school. This showed that the organization is always concerned for the children of the community, even after hours. This is not only a job. It is a commitment and a lifestyle.
We entered the space, and were immediately put to work cleaning windows and scrubbing tables. One of our jobs was to cut out encouraging quotes that are given to the children. The rooms were warm and nice spaces to focus and work. This solidified the fact that these people are dedicated to nurturing a positive attitude in the children. There were two other adults present; both were very welcoming and good spirited. After finishing our work, we headed back to the buses to reconvene at St. Vincent dePaul and discuss what we experienced.
This retreat is very important because it stresses the relevance of helping others today in our society. Many people talk about standing up to poverty and helping others, while they may or may not be actively involved. Instead of waiting for problems to fix themselves, we need to pick up our own tools and fix them. Words don’t change anything; it is all about our actions.