To give because you have received

One Loyola graduate reflects on service during the holiday season

December 1, 2017

Several Loyola alumni spent the last Sunday in November serving at Baltimore’s Beans & Bread, a shelter and resource program that serves 300 people daily with meals, health care, showers, laundry services, case management, housing referrals and placements, mail receipt and telephone access, and employment services.

As National Gratitude Month draws to a close, one graduate reflects on how service allows them show gratitude, especially during the holiday season.

As is a Loyola tradition, alumni served hundreds experiencing hunger and homelessness at Beans & Bread in Baltimore on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Why do you serve?

I volunteer, particularly during the holidays, because there is so much emphasis on being grateful for all that we have, for sharing that which we have, and for being with family and friends…

I am blessed with work, my material needs are more than met, and I am surrounded by an amazing gift of family and friendship, so participating in celebration during the holidays is easy to do. But I recognize this is not the case for everyone, and for too many, there is no work, no home, no food, no family or friendship to provide support and comfort.

For these individuals, the emphasis on the celebration of the holidays can bring more pain than joy. I hope that in volunteering and by serving others, I can perhaps bring just a little bit of joy, if even for just a few moments, to someone who may be struggling.

The sincere gratitude of those we serve in turn gives me happiness and humbles me and reminds me of how blessed I am and how much there is to be grateful for.

How has your Loyola experience influenced your desire to serve your community?

As a Catholic institution fostering the Jesuit philosophy, Loyola looks outward to those in need in the community and establishes pathways to service through programs like Last Sunday Meal at Beans & Bread. In this particular instance, the mere act of serving meals by student and alumni volunteers is only one piece of the effort: Loyola provides the food that we prepare and serve. This is not a matter of participation by those willing to take a few hours to serve a meal; it is a commitment by the university to serve those in need. This is Loyola living out its mission and the Jesuit philosophy.

How do you practice Jesuit principles in your daily life?

This is something I try to do—and I can only hope I have some occasional success! I respect others and the many differences there are among all people. And I know that those differences are not things that make any one greater than any one else. I truly believe that we are all called to serve, in whatever capacity we can, and everyone’s need to serve or be served is ever-changing.

How do you show gratitude every day?

Before getting out of the bed in the morning, I thank God for giving me the chance to participate in another day, and pray that I live each day better than the one before. And I smile. I smile as much as I can each day, because I truly am grateful. I seek to accept the challenges in life as having a greater purpose than the pain or inconvenience being felt at the moment, and pray for strength to be grateful knowing God never fails. And as I have been helped so much in my life, I try to show my gratitude by helping others; to give because I have received.

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