Community service fair showcases student-led projects


Claire Seinsheimer

Junior Mira Thakur promotes her project, Kindergarten Science, at the Fair on Jan. 23.

Ashley Yen and Chloe Zhao

Posters decorated with glitter and tables piled with food filled the Great Hall, attracting students to the first Community Service Mini Project Fair. The Fair, which took place on Jan. 23 during lunch, showcased a variety of student-led community service projects.

Junior Athena Adrogué, who leads the project Performing Arts, began displaying her artistic talents at assisted living homes at the age of 13 to help patients better deal with their problems in their life and get them through their day. Adrogué hopes that she and other volunteers can share their love of performing arts with others.

“I want volunteers to understand that they can use their individual talents to help the community,” Adrogué said.

C-Squared, another project, aims to motivate female victims of sexual and domestic abuse throughout their recovery by creating bracelets. Junior Gray Bertuccio first became inspired to help victims when her step-mother volunteered at the Houston Area’s Women Center, and now she leads the project with junior Mackenzie Glanville.

“The women have gone through a lot, and to have something like a little colorful bracelet would just brighten up their day a little,” Bertuccio said.

Once a month, junior Jacqueline Heal, sophomore Tyler King and a group of volunteers help The Beacon, a homeless shelter, with domestic tasks such as cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. According to Heal, the purpose of Beacon is to allow students to easily interact and help with the Houston homeless population.

“I hope volunteers get a sense of gratitude and realize how fortunate they are to be in the place that they are,” Heal said. “It’s important to help others who might not be in the same place as we are in.”

The community service app ServeUp, created by seniors Matthew Giordano, Ishan Kamat and Sebastian Varma, informs students of volunteer opportunities and allows them to have easier access to their hour count. However, many students were still unaware of ongoing projects. According to Community Service Director Marci Bahr, the Fair facilitated a connection between project leaders and students.

“As kids were going around to the different booths, they were able to see the project leaders,” Bahr said. “The project leaders were able to talk to them about who their beneficiaries were, and really make that connection.”

Bahr hopes that the exposure from the Fair will encourage more students to participate in community service.

“When friends see when friends see their friends doing things for others, that can multiply the effort,” Bahr said. “Helping others is contagious.”

As students explored the various volunteer opportunities showcased during the Fair, project leaders encouraged students to participate in community service and benefit the people who don’t have the same privileges as students from St. John’s.

“Anytime someone is involved in giving to others, the serendipitous benefit is really for the individual that’s serving,” Bahr said. “They feel good about what they’ve done, and that elevates everybody’s mood.”