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Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary’s to serve local drop-in center for day

Saturday morning more than two dozen Saint Mary’s students will join the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) to prepare and serve breakfast at Our Lady of the Road in South Bend. 

Our Lady of the Road is a local daytime drop-in center to provide breakfast, laundry, showers and hospitality to the community. 

With the temporary closure of the South Bend Public Library, Our Lady of the Road has hosted additional hours to serve as a warming center, Kris Choinacky, assistant director of OCSE, said. 

Saturday’s day of service is part of ongoing “Service Saturdays” the office sponsors throughout the year.

“Part of our job here is to serve the community and connect our students out in the community, and the ways that we do that is from our Service Saturdays, the one that we chose this month being Our Lady of the Road,” Choinacky said.

First-year student and OCSE student worker Carmen Kosiba said she is eager for Saturday’s service day. 

“I find an interest in serving the community which is why I registered to attend,” Kosiba said. “Aside from helping others, I think an advantage is that [volunteering] has allowed me to feel a sense of home here because my home is an hour-and-a-half away. It’s nice to feel like you belong to a community larger than yourself, and it lets me meet so many new people along the way.”

OCSE has over 100 community partners that they work with throughout the year.

“We specifically chose February to go to Our Lady of the Road because we knew that February had an extra weekend this year, and we weren’t sure if they would have a group available to help them serve breakfast,” Choinacky said. “We encourage the students to spend their ‘extra day’ during service work. [Our Lady of the Road] were very excited to hear that we were wanting to come and serve.”

When it comes to selecting community partners to work with Choinacky said, it is important to her to base it off who they have worked with in the past, but try to avoid repeating partners for Service Saturdays.

“Picking a partner also involves looking at the month, the theme of the month and what our local agencies are doing,” Choinacky said. “For example in March we are going to the Logan Center at Hannah and Friends because their big campaign month is March, so it just makes sense to say let’s work with Logan Center.”

Other upcoming Service Saturdays include Rebuilding Together and Back the Bend which typically have a high turnout rate from Saint Mary’s students. 

Partnerships with OCSE expand beyond community partners as far as student clubs and organizations. Saturday’s Day of Service is cosponsored with the Belles for Life group on campus. 

The day begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and concludes at 11 a.m. with brunch and time for reflection on the day’s work.