MOWSF Blog | Volunteer News
By Nadia Salim, MOWSF Media Correspondent
University of San Francisco sophomores Jackie Alcantara and Jing Xue came to Meals On Wheels of San Francisco (MOWSF) through their school’s service-learning program. For one semester, they were expected to use what they learned in the classroom to help others and also to learn from their service experience itself.
One could easily dismiss their work as a mandatory school requirement, but each had choices about where they could volunteer. Both chose MOWSF and ended up loving their experiences, and both plan to continue volunteering with MOWSF in the future. “MOWSF was at the very top of my list because it’s a demographic I hold close to my heart,” says Jackie. “I’m close to my grandparents, and to help other grandparents in need really means a lot to me.”
So how do these bright young students get involved once they’ve chosen MOWSF? Rather than sit behind desks, they participate in hands on activities like working on Spring Cleaning All Year Round, MOWSF’s home-cleaning volunteer program, and assisting meal delivery drivers in distributing meals to seniors across San Francisco. They also had opportunities to make personal visits to MOWSF clients.
“There was one lady we did a home cleaning with, her name was Martha, and she’s the one I remember the most,” says Jackie. “She was so vibrant and hospitable, offering us sodas and walking round to see what we were doing. And she was 95 years old! She said, ‘Don’t feel bad that I’m alone—I’ve lived a long full life, and I love my life’.”
Both young women say they would highly recommend the experience of volunteering, and not necessarily despite the uncomfortable, sad situations that can sometimes arise, but rather because of them. “I think the biggest part of learning from the experience is through getting in there with uncomfortable situations and doing things you wouldn’t imagine yourself doing – and talking to people you wouldn’t see yourself talking to,” says Jackie. “From that, you can learn so much. It’s good to hear what seniors have to say and the stories they have to share.”
While MOWSF certainly benefits from the Service Learning Program, adding extra hands and man-hours to their resources, what is truly striking is the impact that is seems to have had on the bright young students who participate. Both Jing and Jackie plan to continue their work beyond their school requirements, and both have said that as a result of the program they will carry the value of community service forward in their lives.
When asked what she learned from the program, rather than talk about social demographics, the logistics of running a non-profit, or figuring out the fastest way to help the most people, Jing smiles and says, “I learned a sense of social responsibility.”