The Hilbert College community will gather this week to pitch in on projects throughout Western new York.
The school will hold its annual Franciscan Day of Caring Wednesday, September 30, with students, staff and faculty learning about Franciscan teachings in the morning and participating in service projects during the afternoon.
Vice President for Mission Integration and Campus Ministry Jeffrey Papia said the event is a great example of Hilbert’s commitment to the Franciscan tradition.
“We do this because we have to, we do this because we must. We, as a Catholic and Franciscan school, are not simply here for education’s sake,” said Papia. “The degrees we give out, the students that we educate, the things we do are all meant to support the world around us and make the lives of those around us better and more fulfilling.”
In past years, Hilbert students, faculty, and alumni would participate in large scale community projects for a day of service. With the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not practical this year, but Papia said the day of caring work will be just as impactful.
“A lot of what we’ll be doing is inside the classroom. Smaller projects that are manageable within the space. Things that we’ve organized in working with our community partners,” Papia said. “Little tasks and work that might not be as large as organizing a big food pantry, or doing inventory at the Teacher’s Desk, but smaller projects that you can do at your desk with your neighbors around you that still nevertheless serve the community.”
Papia hopes things like the day of caring might inspire Hilbert students to get involved in something that’s bigger than themselves.
“When you get into a space and you are meeting people and developing relationships in the context of service, there’s just something more meaningful, there’s a bond that’s deeper,” said Papia. “There’s a passion that often can be ignited in you when you get to see and experience and learn from people who are out in the world doing the good work of social justice, and are doing it in ways the inspire you a desire to create similar change.”
Community partners include the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition, Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center, and Native American Community Services. To make participation easier, the college will be suspending classes until 4:30 Wednesday, with the day of caring starting at 10 a.m.