Service Advocates embody Salve Regina’s Mercy ethic during remote learning
The celebration of the Paschal Triduum leading to Easter commences on Holy Thursday with a reading from the Gospel of John. In this Gospel, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, modeling the way in which love is manifest in humble service to one’s neighbor.
“When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them ‘Do you know what I have done to you? … If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should do as I have done to you’ … And he said to them, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you.’ ”
—John 13:12-15, 34
Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, also reflects Jesus’ new commandment to love and service: “If we love God, we will undoubtedly love our neighbor also; they are as cause and effect.”
In Salve Regina’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the University has been reminded how deeply the call to service and care for neighbors is central to its vocation as a Mercy, Catholic institution. And the Center for Community Engagement and Service takes up this call in a meaningful way, now and all year long, through the leadership of the Service Advocate program.
Service Advocates committed to year-long service, convene virtually
Service Advocates are undergraduate student leaders who partner with a range of community organizations on Aquidneck Island to address issues of social injustice through service and solidarity. These students have together completed over 2,000 hours of service this year in collaboration with places like Child & Family Services, the Edward King House, Learning Unlimited, the Salvation Army, Donovan Manor, Potter League and God’s Community Garden.
“Service Advocates have been so special for all of us at God’s Community Garden,” said Linda Wood, coordinator of God’s Community Garden. “They sign up when they are freshmen and usually continue to volunteer the four years at Salve. Peggy, our garden manager, and I rely on Salve students not only to work the greenhouses and gardens, but to teach others coming to volunteer as well. We are blessed and have been blessed with so many wonderful volunteers in the last 10 years.”
This year, a Senior Service Advocate initiative was also created to further the impact of the program. Five graduating seniors who have dedicated their careers at Salve Regina to service and solidarity in the local community chose to take on a leadership and mentorship role for the rising cohort of Service Advocates.
Throughout the academic year, Senior Service Advocates have led groups, planned events, participated at their service sites, completed office hours each week and served as role models in the Center for Community Engagement and Service.
Through their work in the local community, all Service Advocates gain experience, skills and an understanding of the common good grounded in their community collaborations.
“My service at the Salvation Army helps me empathize with ‘us,’ and this, in turn, will help me to create better art, because it allows me to see things from differing perspectives,” said Ryan Miech, a Service Advocate for the Salvation Army.
And the Service Advocates’ dedication has continued throughout this time of remote learning and Virtual Salve. In the last two weeks, Senior Service Advocates have reached out to Service Advocates to create virtual meetings and support their local community partners.
Service Advocate spotlight: three sisters volunteer at Newport Hospital
One of the greatest rewards is seeing how both Salve Regina students and their community partners grow and appreciate the transformative work in these collaborative partnerships.
Three Service Advocates — sisters Kaitlyn, Elizabeth and Anne-Marie Brilhante — have been working all year in partnership with the Newport Hospital. The Brilhante sisters use their teamwork, strong work ethic and creativity to contribute to the needs of this local community partner with genuine kindness and mercy.
Lisa Coble, director of volunteer services at Newport Hospital, was so impressed by the Brilhante sisters that she designated them with a special volunteer award during National Volunteer Week. Coble shared that the Brilhante sisters go above and beyond.
“They’ve reorganized storage spaces and closets that would have taken a staff member months to do,” said Coble. “They are always encouraging and uplifting when … at Newport Hospital.”
Coble’s words and Newport Hospital’s recognition of these three Service Advocates is a wonderful beacon of light in this time. The Center for Community Service and Engagement is so appreciative of the ways in which Kaitlyn, Elizabeth and Anne-Marie Brilhante have developed a strong partnership with Newport Hospital and are living out Salve Regina’s Mercy mission.
SRyou Student Exposition via Instagram
Since making the switch to remote learning, events such as SRyou Student Exposition have also gone virtual. SRyou Student Exposition is an important tradition at Salve Regina in which students from all majors and departments are invited to showcase their classroom work, research and service endeavors for the University community.
This event, which was originally scheduled for March 25, has been revived through social media. Salve Service Advocates have utilized the Center for Community Engagement and Service’s Instagram to virtually showcase their service engagement presentations prepared for SRyou. This has provided a meaningful way to share these experiences and to reflect on the significance of service and solidarity for the University mission and the local community.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the Center for Community Engagement and Service and getting involved as a Service Advocate, please visit here.
Each Monday, SALVEtoday will provide a service update for the University community on what faculty, staff and students are doing to help out others during this time of remote living and learning. #salvesgotthis #mercymondays