MAYWOOD, Ill. – In a powerful show of commitment, more than 100 students, faculty and staff from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine spent the day volunteering alongside their Maywood neighbors.
Loyolans gardened, painted and cleaned sites throughout Maywood during Stritch’s Annual Day of Service, held this year on Aug. 4. The event is designed to introduce new students to their Maywood neighbors as well as to solidify Loyola’s commitment to the community. This is just one way in which Stritch students are living out one of Loyola University Chicago’s core values of service to the world.
“We commemorate the start of the new school year by serving others,” said Alicia Kurtz, fourth-year medical student and Day of Service volunteer. “It’s our way of demonstrating to Maywood what we mean when we say, ‘We care about you as a community, and not just as people we are going to learn from.’ I think that’s very important."
Virginia McCarthy, assistant director for Stritch’s Center for Service and Global Health, worked with representatives from other Maywood organizations to coordinate projects for the volunteers. These included Maywood Fine Arts, the ENRICH Natural Learning Center community garden, St. Eulalia Church, West Suburban PADS emergency homeless shelter, Walther Lutheran High School and local parks.
“Loyola is of Maywood, not just in Maywood,” McCarthy said. “We want to be intentional about what we do here."
In preparation returning students briefed first-year students about Stritch’s service programs in Maywood and Proviso Township. This student-to-student exchange emphasized the school’s focus on social justice and helped match student interests with service opportunities. The goal, according to McCarthy, was to create sustainable service projects and form a greater sense of community.
The impact of working alongside other community members during the service day was meaningful for Stritch students.
“At a middle school we worked with parents who were also having a day of service. It was interesting to work alongside them, talking as we pulled weeds and working together to make their children’s school look nice for the start of their school year,” Kurtz said.
During the course of the day, students learned how service projects can form the basis of capstone research or scholarship as required by Stitch’s honors programs. They began to see the link between direct action of the Day of Service and academic excellence—and they didn’t have to look far to find it.
“It’s nice that the very first service event we do as students is right here,” Kurtz added.
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