State of Service at SEM

Adapted from Kyle Hopkins’s Community Service Awards address in Morning Meeting on May 30.

The state of Community Service @ SEM is good!

And, there were a lot of new things happening!

(Far left) Katie Gibbons, Head of Community Service Board and in maroon, Talia Stoffman, Buffalo Business First Community All-Star among the honorees from English and journalism on May 24.

This year, with Katie Gibbons at the helm, the Community Service Board launched a new initiative – Service Tuesdays.  

For several months of the year, every Tuesday, SEM students would go to an organization after school and serve for one month at that institution. In October, February, March, and April, we served dinners to people at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy.

During November we went to the CSI Charter School – where different SEM groups organized a workshop for the after school program kids. The basketball team held a clinic for 3rd and 4th graders, the Semachords sang a concert, the design club did an arts and crafts program, and a group of sophomores sponsored a holiday party.

Service Tuesdays were meaningful work because we felt needed and appreciated AND we really got to know an organization well.  They were counting on us to be there – and we were, every week. And we counted on them to fill our hearts.

But St. Luke’s and CSI weren’t the only organizations we partnered with.

Loading supplies for Puerto Rico relief in the fall, 2017.

Another organization that relies on SEM volunteers is WEDI – Westminster Economic Development Initiative, which sponsors  ENERGY and the new FLY program.

I would like to say a word about the volunteers who dedicated themselves to these after-school programs, one trimester at a time. We had three sessions – fall, winter, and spring – and these volunteers would commit to going every Wednesday or Thursday for the entire trimester, like a sport.  

Most volunteers only could commit to one trimester, but Talia Stoffman worked two trimesters and Ellen Kahng volunteered for all three. Ellen, Talia and the rest of the ENERGY and FLY volunteers deserve to be recognized for their dedication to the kids in these programs and for representing SEM so well in the community.

We did something new and different this year – we helped to move a hospital! That was really cool – we were one of only two schools asked to participate. Whether you got to be the final final final final checker for all the medical supplies as a senior, or if you were part of the crazy and massive assembly line, making swag bags for hospital patients and volunteers, you were part of a larger community event – one that you can tell your grandchildren that you helped to move a hospital! 

I must acknowledge this year’s community service board: freshmen Molly Schultz and Lexi Bian, sophomores Lilly Johnsen and Lily Hamlett, juniors Isabel Finkbeiner and Ayesha Khan, and seniors Brooke Pohlman and Clare Sharkey.

And a huge SEM shout to our fearless leader Katie Gibbons! Katie served the school with enthusiasm, grace, and commitment, as head of the board. She is also an amazing volunteer herself  – she started volunteering for ENERGY her freshman year and never stopped. When some of her ENERGY kids graduated to the FLY program, she followed them and became a FLY volunteer. I especially want to acknowledge and recognize Katie’s tireless commitment to serving other people. Whether it’s holding the door for the SEM community after Morning Meeting every morning, working behind the scenes to organize service events, or dedicating herself to tutoring refugee kids every week, Katie is the embodiment of service. This is who she is and SEM is a better place because of her.  Thank you, Katie.

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