Back in Action: Return of the Service Projects

Junior/senior service projects are a key program in getting juniors/seniors involved with community service, and forming connections with programs throughout the area. For the past two years the system has been suffering some setbacks due to COVID-19 but this year the program should be back in place.

by Lauren Ford, Graphics Editor

For decades at STA, service projects begin junior year and carry onto senior year, and the journey ends with a student fulfilling 90 hours of service and establishing a special relationship with an agency of their choosing. The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges to the program, but this year may be the first for students to experience a mostly normal service week in almost two years.

Traditionally, during junior year, students choose an agency in the community and dedicate 30 hours in a one week to the service of their choice. This continues with 30 more hours in the summer, and another 30 more senior year during service week . However, two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic created an unsafe environment for community service and shut down the majority of service opportunities. This left quite a different experience for the classes of 2020 and 2021.

During that time, STA’s service program had to shift gears in response to the pandemic.

 “I had our rising seniors do 15 hours, anywhere,” Director of ministry and service Andrea Arredondo said. “…It wasn’t that there weren’t things that needed to be done in the community, it was just that we didn’t have enough for an entire junior class.”

Under normal circumstances, the service program offers a wide array of agencies where students can volunteer.

“We have about 50 different agencies that we work with that students can go to,” Arredondo said. 

The agencies offer a massive variety of service opportunities, from more well known agencies such as Harvesters, to more unique places such as Happy Bottoms or Wayside Waifs. 

“I did my hours with Happy Bottoms,” senior Grace Ragusa said. “ [I] wrap diapers for people and hand out diapers to people who can’t afford them. I still like to do it and my advisor actually plans to go volunteer with them during Thanksgiving.”

Consistent volunteering at a particular agency is beneficial due to the relationships that can form. With STA students spending 90 total hours at an agency, the student fully gets to know the program and therefore this connection can carry on past the junior and senior service weeks, whether it’s occasional volunteering or even a role with the agency that goes above being a volunteer. 

“What was really cool about that program was that a student would get to know an agency, and all of the intricacies and different aspects of it over the course of her junior and senior year,” Arredondo said.

This lack of service opportunities has impacted the service program, but as the 2021-2022 school year unfolds, campus ministry is expecting at least 30 agencies will be able to work with St. Teresa’s Academy, and a full week of service will be in place for both juniors and seniors.