Service, social justice, education, preparation and reflection. Without a doubt, these are the words I use the most when describing my job as a service coordinator at Loyola’s Center for Community Service and Justice.
Most often, I find that it’s difficult to truly express in words what it is that we do at CCSJ, and my mom still can’t get all the letters straight, usually asking me, “So how is work at CSJ, CCS, oh, something to do with community service?”
A lot of people might be really unfamiliar with the work CCSJ does, which is most simply described as “educating through service,” since we are officially an academic division of the university. The cool part about my job specifically, though, is that with my good friend Jenn, I am a service coordinator for HoundServe, the umbrella for all of the one-time service opportunities that CCSJ offers. This means that a lot of the students I’m interacting with as part of my job are either new to service, or new to the CCSJ approach to service, with an emphasis on education and preparation before and reflection after action.
The Center has a full-time professional staff as well as about 40 part-time student staff members, including service coordinators working with specific community partners that Loyola students do service with on a regular basis, creative assistants who imagine and create our beautiful posters and ads, photograph events, and manage our online presence, and student assistants who greet visitors to the office at the front desk and keep the office running in ship shape. We’re a tight team and absolutely every member is crucial to our success throughout the year. I love walking in the office after class every day, catching up with my friends and co-workers, and knowing that I’m part of something meaningful, doing work that I’m passionate about. It doesn’t get much better than that.
This semester, Jenn and I have held information sessions to orient students with service and HoundServe, which is a new organization this year within CCSJ. We have also coordinated and supplied, trained, and reflected with volunteers for the Red Cross Fall Blood Drive, trick-or-treating through the residence halls for community children, and bingo nights at a local senior citizens center.
Next semester there are a lot of new exciting adventures in store for us as well, such as the Special Olympics, Easter egg hunts for community children, a carnival with Best Buddies, a program for adults with intellectual disabilities, and a stream cleanup. We never run out of things to do when we’re running around in the student staff office, usually four or five days a week. Whether it’s planning an introduction to service presentation for a first-year class, getting supplies together for an evening reflection, or hounding (get it, hounding?) our volunteers with emails on service opportunities, we love every minute of our job.
I’ve been working for the Center for three months now, since I moved-in early on Aug. 19 for our two-week staff training, which included time for bonding as a family and a team on retreat, and sessions on social justice issues and education as well as how to be an effective and good service coordinator. I’m regularly identified on campus as a CCSJ service coordinator, and I’m proud that this is now one part of my Loyola identity. My friends, professors, and people in various leadership positions that I don’t even know see me as a representative of CCSJ, and because of that, I strive to work for justice in my everyday words and actions, not just when I’m in the office.
Loyola offers countless opportunities for on-campus jobs like this one, including interning at Campus Ministry (like my roommate, Meagan), tutoring at the Study (like my roommate, Jen), being an RA (like many of my friends), working at the FAC, being a desk assistant, and countless others that are far too many to name here.
Many of my friends have found on-campus jobs that are perfect for their personalities, interests, and schedules, and this couldn’t be more true for me. By becoming involved in weekly service during the first month of my first year at Loyola, who knew I would stumble upon a new passion? All I can say is, thank God I did.