Growing Purpose through Service at St. Joseph Center
Recently, our 6th graders began to make their annual visits to St. Joseph Center as part of the grade’s service learning curriculum. St. Joseph Center provides an array of services to homeless and low-income individuals and families, and Curtis has a longstanding and much valued relationship with this nonprofit organization. Many generations of Curtis 6th graders have helped serve meals to the Center’s homeless clients in the Bread & Roses Café and stocked shelves and bagged food in the Food Pantry that provides supplemental groceries to low-income households.
A parent of one 6th grader, who chaperoned a group of students on their service day in the Bread and Roses Café, shared her observations about that experience. She writes:
"As an involved nine-year veteran of Curtis, I thought I had pretty much squeezed every ounce of opportunity out of our family’s time here, but it was today, driving and chaperoning our sixth graders to the Bread and Roses Cafe for their service learning that really allowed me to see the 'big picture' and what it truly means to be a Curtis student. …. I was so proud of how the kids handled themselves and jumped in to work with absolute strangers… a staff chef, a staff host, students from the Culinary Institute, students from a sorority, local volunteer residents of Venice... Our kids were by far the youngest, but were so professional, kind, hard-working and 100% engaged in the work they were doing.
"When I reflect on all the discussion we have done as a school around the mission statement, our strategic plan, and even during the last PGI meeting with buzz words of kindness, empathy and compassion, nothing has compared to watching it happen before my eyes—watching it happen in service to others less fortunate. So, if you had any doubt about the value of the Curtis service program, my unbiased opinion is that it is so worthwhile and really solidifies our children’s understanding of what empathy and inclusivity really mean, and how these qualities directly apply to the world around them."
Curtis’s Purpose statement (a product of the school’s Envision Our Future strategic plan process) aspires that “Our graduates have purpose beyond themselves: they recognize how their contributions can bring about change and positivity, and understand their responsibility to the greater good.” Service learning is an integral element of our curriculum and one way that the school inspires students to look outward and contribute to the greater good. We are proud of our students for representing Curtis well as they use their Curtis compassionate hearts to serve others. And we are grateful to the 6th Grade parent volunteers who accompany the students during this service opportunity and by doing so lend support to the school’s Mission and Purpose.