By Emma York, LSJ Communications Student Assistant
A wide group of LSJ community members – current students, local alumni, staff, and faculty -- recently joined together to volunteer their time at the main downtown shelter of the Downtown Emergency Services Center. It proved another great opportunity to bring the community together in the service of core values.
“I think my favorite part about LSJ Day of Service is being able to meet other people in the LSJ community,” said LSJ major Crystal Song. “It’s a great opportunity to network with current and former students and to get back in touch with why we all decided to pursue LSJ— to serve our community in socially impactful ways.”
DESC was founded in 1979 to provide emergency shelter and survival services for those in our area living in a state of chronic homelessness. It seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the King County population.
This was the ninth time LSJ has volunteered at a DESC facility. The group engaged in several activities, including painting offices, deep cleaning the kitchen, making and serving hors d'oeuvres, and playing games with the clients.
“When we organized the first Day of Service with DESC nine years ago, we very much hoped we would create a partnership that could last,” said Professor Steve Herbert, LSJ department chair. “I am very happy to say that we have succeeded in doing precisely that.”
Organizers at DESC, Olivia Jelensky and Don Rupp, shared their gratitude for the work of LSJ.
“I had several clients say ‘thank you and ‘when are we doing this again?’, which reminded me of why we do this work - to give back dignity, with compassion, to a group of people currently experiencing a very challenging situation,” Jelensky said.
LSJ Academic Services Manager, Kyla Mayer, described this Day of Service as unique from prior experiences due to LSJ’s engagement with clients and ability to see the results of their efforts.
“This was the first time we had ever been inside the main shelter, so I think having our group actually situated in the physical location where they are providing services and housing to folks changes the meaning of the work,” Mayer said. “I think being in a position where we are able to give back and being able to directly see the impact makes it different.”
A valuable component of the Day of Service is offering a productive way for alumni to stay involved in the life of the department.
“As an alum, I really enjoyed reconnecting with the LSJ community through this event,” reflected Medha Raman, a member of LSJ’s class of 2018. “It was a great opportunity to hear from current students about their LSJ experience and to share my own advice with them as a graduate of the program.”
Reflecting on the larger value of the Day of Service, Professor Stephen Meyers sees the effort extending beyond the LSJ community and making a larger difference in the issues salient to our program.
“The Day of Service not only builds community within our ranks (students, alumni, staff, and faculty), but helps build up the broader Seattle community by involving us in important work,” said Meyers.