On a fall Saturday morning, as Pope Francis boarded a plane from NYC for Philly, I rode an early morning train to Penn Station to meet 14 students from my FCIQ class. Each of us were armed with brunch items such as eggs, bacon, syrup, fruit, pancake mix. Today was the launch of our service-learning project at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge New York City.
It was quite remarkable to see 14 young adults seamlessly prepare a full brunch for 40 people. Clusters of students formed to tackle the tasks needed to pull off the event. I observed them laughing while using their critical thinking skills to calculate the water/mix ratio to make batter for 80 pancakes, team work to crack, whisk, and scramble 5 dozen eggs, fry 5 pounds of bacon, and transferable skills led by my catering expert student to make a beautiful brunch display. This inspires me!
Throughout the preparation, the Hope Lodge patients and caregivers started to trickle in. You see they were the lucky recipients of the fruits of our labor (service) and their response was incredible. They were overjoyed by our hospitality and generosity. In small groups we chatted with the guests, shared stories, laughs, and hugs. We even convinced Neil ( patient) to play the piano. Many students heard, first hand, the challenges cancer patients and their caregivers face. This inspires me!
As brunch came to a natural end, the Hope Lodge guests began to seek me out to share thanks and thoughts about the students and the event. Their messages included; this is the nicest group of volunteers that we’ve had in all months I’ve been here, your students had the ability to make all this happen and where so personable and engaging, and from the caregiver/president of a Syracuse Community college – thank you for taking service-learning so seriously! This overwhelmed me with inspiration!!