St. Mary's Dining Hall- Serving the Community

St. Mary’s Dining Hall ,  Stockton, CA

St. Mary’s Dining Hall , Stockton, CA

Hi all! I’m back from studying abroad and I will be debriefing to you about my experience in Spain in another article. Today I’m going to talk about the lovely Center for Community Involvement (CCI) right across Burns Tower where I worked and volunteered throughout my four years in college. Honestly, the CCI taught me a lot about the real world by learning how to deal with raging adults, kids, and building relationships. I was a Voluntary Action Group Leader (VAG) for two years at St. Mary’s Dining Hall.

As a VAG leader, I led a group of 5 volunteers every other Friday to serve food to those in need. First, I made name tags, did an icebreaker, then we would all carpool to volunteer. Once we got there, I would give a tour of the space, introduce the volunteers with the managers who are great people, and showed them what they would be doing. St. Mary’s Dining Hall mission is to respond to poverty in the San Joaquin County by feeding the hungry, caring for health issues, and restoring human dignity to over 700 individuals each day. I loved how grateful they were after UOP students came to help. They always are so appreciative of the little things! It was also an eye-opening experience of how much I learned about the community, Stockton’s needs, and economic disparity in general.

A benefit from my volunteering in the community was about becoming more open-minded to problems and stereotypes associated with homelessness. St. Mary’s Dining Hall does a lot for the community and I’m very glad I could be part of that. My favorite part was meeting people of all majors and classes and then getting to know the people who work at St. Mary’s Dining Hall on a deeper level. What’s great about being a VAG leader is the fact that you can learn about the other Voluntary Action Groups and service events as well! There’s Stockton Shelter for the Homeless, VSP Bowling, Habitat for Humanity, Boggs Tract Community Farm, and Plymouth Square Retirement Center. You can find out more on how to get involved, volunteer, and record your hours through their Reach Out website.

I also love that the CCI motivates you to reach 100 hours to receive a stole at graduation. I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment and it was a personal goal of mine to branch out and try new Voluntary Action Groups and service events before I graduated.

I learned that not everyone who comes in is homeless. I learned that it gets really busy at the end of the month because that’s when the welfare checks for the people usually run out. I was humbled and my continuation of volunteering for them solidified my purpose that whatever I’m doing in life, service needs to a part of it.

Take care Tigers, until next time!!