The Catholic University of America

March 19, 2012

CUA President, Trustees Volunteer at SOME

  Bishop Joseph Pepe, left, and Bishop Thomas Olmsted prepare a plate of food.
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Just before the lunchtime crunch, President John Garvey and eight other members of Catholic University’s Board of Trustees were instructed to line up on either side of a serving table in the dining area of So Others Might Eat (SOME) in Northwest Washington, D.C.

A SOME employee named Tawan told them they should load plates of food evenly. Garvey and trustee Timothy Busch carefully counted out four potatoes for each plate. The other trustees — in SOME aprons and hair nets — loaded up plates with chicken, green beans, bread, and dessert to serve to people walking in.

“We smile on the line and we have fun,” Tawan told the CUA group, who spent part of March 19 volunteering at the interfaith, community-based organization that serves the poor and homeless of the city.

The trustees’ time serving meals to SOME’s clients will count as part of the Cardinal Service Commitment, which celebrates the University’s 125th anniversary. Although CUA students, alumni, faculty, and staff reached the goal of performing 125,000 hours of service ahead of schedule (on Jan. 24), the University is continuing to count service hours until April 10, 2012, Founders Day and the date for the original 125,000 service hours goal. Students surpassed the 125,000 mark on their own on March 16.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted hands a plate of food to a lunchtime guest.
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In the morning, the trustees, Associate Director of Campus Ministry Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, and Lili Tarasevich, student and regular SOME volunteer, traveled by bus to SOME and were greeted by Rev. John Adams, president and CEO of the organization.

Father Adams, who is a CUA alumnus, led them on a tour, including the dining room where approximately 1,000 meals are served each day. He showed them the medical clinic where ill homeless individuals are treated. He also explained the other services the organization offers, including mental and dental health treatment, clothing and shower rooms, addiction treatment, employment training, and residential assistance.

“I think people in the community trust us a lot because we’re faith-based,” Father Adams explained.

Most Rev. Joseph Pepe, bishop of Las Vegas and University trustee, said he was impressed with SOME’s work and described his experience serving meals as “marvelous.”

“Father Adams, with the least amount of fanfare, has co-opted so many individuals to help,” he said. Interested in how he could help the people of his own diocese, Bishop Pepe asked Father Adams questions throughout the visit about how services are provided.

Trustee Lee Ann Brady volunteered at SOME when she was a student at CUA in the 1970s. At that time, SOME served meals in the basement of the St. Aloysius Church on the campus of Gonzaga College High School in Northwest D.C. She said volunteering today brought her “full circle.”

“SOME combines a real respect for dignity with an efficiency that is unmatched,” she said. “It’s hard to combine those two things.”

  From left: Mark Murray, Bishop Joseph Pepe, Victor Smith, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Richard Banziger, Timothy Busch, Bishop Gregory Mansour, John Garvey, Lee Ann Brady, Rev. John Adams, Lili Tarasevich, and Emmjolee Mendoza Waters.

Mendoza Waters said the University has a great community service partnership with SOME. Twice a week students meet at the Office of Campus Ministry at 6:45 a.m., and head to SOME to serve breakfast. The hours from those trips contributed to the Cardinal Service Commitment.

Bishop Pepe credits service as one of the gifts of a Catholic campus. “We get sensitized to social outreach and the poor,” he said. “We recognize their dignity. That’s the wonderful thing about a Catholic campus.”

Brady agrees. “Service is a hallmark of the University,” she says. “It always has been and always will be. It’s great to honor that with the 125th anniversary.”

The other trustees who participated were Richard Banziger; Most Rev. Gregory Mansour, bishop of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn; Mark Murray; Most Rev. Thomas Olmsted, bishop of Phoenix; and Victor Smith.



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