By Jackson Booth, Reporter
Student Community and Leadership Service (SCLS) held its eighth annual Three Days of Service on Oct. 13, 15 and 16. The service days were a collaborative effort with 10 to 12 non-profits in the Omaha community, said Lindsey Scott, graduate student coordinator for SCLS.
Some of the non-profits represented were Habitat for Humanity Omaha, Habitat for Humanity Council Bluffs, Lauritzen Gardens, Open Door Mission and the People’s City Mission in Lincoln.
“They (non-profits) submit projects of things they want to get done and have the volunteers accomplish,” Scott said. “Realizing how much organizations rely on volunteers to survive is really important for students to experience.”
Three Days of Service is led by SCLS under the leadership of Dr. Kathe Oleson Lyons. Lyons, started the program eight years ago after students expressed interest in service projects.
Students could sign up for one, two or three days for a period of six hours. Many of the projects were not at UNO, so transportation was provided to the various non-profits. In years past, SCLS has had anywhere from 700 to 1,000 students from UNO and the Omaha community participate in the Three Days of Service. As a part of this event, students were provided with breakfast, lunch and a free T-Shirt.
“The goal of the Three Days of Service is to give students the opportunity to get to know organizations in their community as well as serve, and it provides a lot of professional skill building,” Scott said.
Many of the students who participate in this event do so for service learning requirements; however, other groups participate as well.
“We get a lot of religious groups, international students, [and] high school students [that participate],” Scott said. “We also get a lot of repeat students that just like to do service and they have time during fall break so it’s all kinds of people.”
Graduate student Mathew Gonzalez has been an intern with the SCLS for the past six months.
Gonzalez was deployed overseas three times as a member of the Marine Corps. Through his experiences abroad and Three Days of Service, he has learned what it means to give of oneself.
“After serving in the Marine Corps for over four years and deploying three times I realized making a difference in other people’s lives is what fulfills me,” Gonzalez said. “To see the smiles on the faces of the people you impact and being able to take pride in something is an experience you wish everyone could feel.”
Based on his military experience, Gonzalez has a special interest in veteran’s affairs. He joined an organization called The Mission Continues, which provides a monthly stipend for post-9/11 veterans to become involved with and work for non-profits in their community, Gonzalez said. Veterans are given the stipend and are expected to complete projects with a non-profit.
Gonzalez completed his non-profit service with SummerWorks, which helps youth apply for and obtain jobs in the Omaha metro.
Gonzalez has also been very grateful for the way in which the Veteran Student Organization at UNO has helped him adjust to university life from his time on military duty.
One exciting addition to this year’s Three Days of Service was being able to work with the People’s City Mission in Lincoln, Gonzalez said. Gonzalez headed up the project on Monday.
“We haven’t gone to Lincoln before and it’s a really great organization that doesn’t have time frames so you can live there as long as you need as long as you’re going through the program [at the shelter],” Gonzalez said.
During their time at the People’s City Mission, Gonzalez and the team that went with him were able to help repair run down walls in dormitories, clean up yards in recreational areas, and work at a food distribution location.
Both Gonzalez and Scott believe volunteerism is beneficial for personal and professional growth. Gonzalez knows the importance of giving back to the community and was excited for the opportunity to serve during the Three Days of Service.
“It was an amazing experience and very rewarding.” Gonzalez said “I think I will always volunteer with something here at UNO. It really has been a second home to me.”