City College helps out local community during Week of Service

Cherelle Roberts

City College students, faculty and staff lent their hands and time to help those in need during the biannual Week of Service April 13-17. The weeklong event occurs each semester where volunteers serve food to those who are less fortunate at St. Vincent de Paul and assist with agriculture at Balboa Park.

Since October 2013, Lori Oldham has organized Week of Service.

“Volunteering at Balboa Park is just one of the events we do. … We serve (meals) at St. Vincent de Paul, as well. This is our week of service,” Oldham said.

She also explained the reason why she loves to give back to the community and even opened up about her past — at one point in time she was homeless and in need of a helping hand due to a stroke of bad luck.

Events like the Week of Service give students a chance to be “socially aware of the importance of giving back to the community,” Oldham said. In addition to this event, she said, Oldham hopes to host a coastal clean-up during fall semester.

The impact of the efforts by the Knights involved in community volunteering have not gone unnoticed by others and even earned them the prestigious Golden Presidential Award from President Barack Obama. They received this award for being one of six organizations who completed one thousand or more hours of community service in 2014.

Matilde Gutierrez, a work study student at Student Affairs and former coordinator of events for the Associated Students Government, has been involved in the Week of Service since its inception. As a child, she began volunteering with her older sister in the community and community service has become an important part of her life.

“Not only do you see them lighting up and make them happy, you learn from it as well,” Gutierrez said. Her positive attitude and outlook on giving back is shared by the other members of the volunteer committee and can be felt as you watch them work.

Everyone, dressed in custom made red shirts marked with the words “CITY COLLEGE CARES,” was smiling and eager to help others in any way possible. Those on the receiving end of the volunteer efforts are not the only ones who benefit.

Oldham expressed how the self-proclaimed “Dream Team” forms lasting bonds in the course of their time at City College and learn empathy and skills they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

The warmth and dedication of everyone involved was evident. Oldham emphasized that the main thing she hopes people learn from giving back to the community is to “never treat anyone like they’re less than.”

Oftentimes, people judge without knowing a person’s circumstances instead of offering a helping hand, and the members involved in the Week of Service are working to change that. As a living testament to the power of community assistance, Oldham states “giving is better than receiving,” and anyone interested in enriching their lives or the lives of others can participate in any future volunteer events by stopping by M-200 and speaking with Oldham or one of the students on staff.