You don’t meet many people at Boston College who don’t volunteer in some fashion. Between your roommate spending spring break building houses with Appalachia, your teammate spending winter break abroad with Arrupe and your best friend serving weekly with 4Boston, Bostonians live for others. Thanks to different groups spanning many different time commitments, it’s easy to fit in some service between your intramural Frisbee tournaments and a cappella concerts. Try these groups and trips on for size.
1. First Year Service Program
First Year Service Program is one of the most unique volunteer opportunities at BC for a few reasons. First, you don’t need to apply to receive a spot in the group. Revel in this, for BC students know all about the competitive nature of most groups and clubs on campus. Second, no upperclassmen allowed. Since you serve with all freshmen, you meet like-minded students who share your experiences as a first year student, which you can discuss and reflect on during weekly meetings. It’s easy to find your niche with all the different placements FYSP offers, including tutoring all ages, soup kitchens and nursing homes to name a few.
A BC student’s newsfeed during spring break consists of 50 percent beach pictures and 50 percent Appalachia pictures. But that doesn’t fully define the Appalachia program. In fact, might change your life. “It not only changed the way that I treat my family, friends, roommates and even strangers, but also changed my view of service and solidarity, and allowed me to incorporate both into my everyday life,” said Co-Head Coordinator Kat Clarke.
Members actually meet up weekly throughout the school year to discuss social injustice and volunteer around Boston. The meetings culminate in a spring break service trip in the Appalachia region, where members team up with Habitat for Humanity and other service programs. The faith component (and dozens of great picture opportunities with new friends) makes this a popular group for BC’s student body.
“4Boston has made me look beyond my preconceptions and hope to be a force for change in the prison system. 4Boston is many things; it is love, service, friendship, and its three pillars of community, spirituality, and social justice,” said Meg Keating, councilperson for the Suffolk County House of Corrections through 4Boston. 4Boston compares to First Year Service Program in format, but accepts students of all grades. Plus it has such a witty name, combining the school song “For Boston” with the group’s requirement of four hours of service per week.
Although serving requires an application, 4Boston boasts the most members of any weekly service organization on campus. Groups meet weekly to reflect on their service in a faith-involved setting, but also to get to know one another. Freshmen, this is your chance to gain some priceless upperclassmen knowledge.
4. Eagle Volunteers
If you were voted “Most Involved” in high school, Eagle Volunteers would probably suit you best. “Our current partnership with St. Peter’s Teen Center in Dorchester allows for students to build relationships with the high school students and break out of the ‘BC bubble’ without having to give up other commitments to athletics, clubs, and other on-campus organizations,” said Graduate Assistant Chris Bauer. You sign up for a volunteer opportunity online on Sunday night if you would like to volunteer that week. The best part is that if you want to do it again the next week, you can. And if you have an exam next Thursday, you don’t have to sign up. It’s completely up to you. Oh, and no application involved. Hallelujah.
Winter break: lovely at first, boring in two weeks. Arrupe cures winter break blues with a weeklong winter break trip to Latin America, along with weekly meetings throughout the year. This yearlong membership also involves retreat weekends both before and after the big trip, so you can get to know your trip buddies. Post-trip meetings and reflections help Arrupe members remember and apply their experiences, in hope of solidarity with those who experience marginalization.
You’re neither a philosophe nor a theology lover. The PULSE program may suit you well; it involves classroom reflection and discussion as well as service. The course, called Person and Social Responsibility, counts as 12 credits, taking care of your philosophy and theology core. This means that PULSE takes up two classes per semester for one year. The classroom component works with your PULSE placement, where you serve 10-12 hours a week in areas such as homelessness, domestic violence, healthcare, youth education and many more. In a satisfying flash, you’re done with philosophy and theology forever.
7. Jamaica Magis
What better way to close the school year than to travel to Jamaica? This service trip, run through Campus Ministry, runs in May and focuses upon themes of service, reflection and community, emphasized during pre- and post-meetings as well as other programs. The goals of the program include learning about social, political and economic marginalization, discovering Jamaican culture via speakers, community outreach and discussions and a focus on faith through worship.
Of course volunteering with other BC students gives you an opportunity to do good while meeting new people, but if the application process to (most of) these groups intimidates you, the Volunteer and Service Learning Center provides an extensive database of volunteer opportunities around Boston. This way, you can fully live out the Jesuit ideal with no excuses or setbacks.
9. Campus Ministry
While the VSLC is essentially the hub of volunteering and serving at Boston College, Campus Ministry provides many immersion trips and service groups that center around faith. Even Salt & Light, considered a faith community on campus, provides retreats and mentoring programs for local parishes. If you’re more interested in the faithful aspect of service, Campus Ministry members always appreciates a stop by their office.
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