Finding Yourself in Doing for Others
The "Everyday Giver" program gives students in Archdiocese of New York high schools an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of service before they begin their volunteer service work at school. They learn the "principles of service" from the courage of aviation workers profiled in the book, Reclaiming the Sky, by Tom Murphy, while they gain peer support for applying the principles. In addition, they are taught how to journal what they learn and write an essay expressing how being an "everyday giver" and doing for others enhanced their experience of volunteering.
The program, operated by the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham University in conjunction with Fordham's Center for Catholic
Leadership, was piloted successfully at three Archdiocese high schools in 2007 /08, including Moore Catholic, Cathedral High and Msgr Scanlan, and will be expanded at these three schools in 2008/09
as well as expanded to other schools in the diocese and beyond.
What is an "everyday giver?"
An everyday giver is someone who each day makes an effort to give something big or small to someone without asking - and thus creates a powerful force in his or her life that moves them forward in ways not measurable in material ways. Everyday givers discover that to do something for someone else on a regular basis can give them a sense of fulfillment and completion and enrich their lives in valuable if intangible ways.
This principle of doing for others each day is evidenced in the selfless way that aviation workers profiled in Reclaiming the Sky - a story of ordinary airport and airline workers who acted in extraordinary fashion under the pressures of 9/11 - found the "secret" to moving forward after extreme loss. They "reclaimed" their lives by doing for others as they charted personal paths to recovery in the aftermath of the attacks.
Students read the book, then work with their teachers to discuss the characters' actions in the stories and glean the "service principles" in the accounts - namely, keying to the theme that we move forward in life by doing for others.
Participating students journal the actions they take during their volunteer projects, then use their journals as references to write an essay expressing what they learned from their own experiences of "doing for others" and "giving without asking."
The "Everyday Giver" program offers a website, everydaygivers.com, that lets students share their experiences on line with other students while they are in the process of going through the program. In addition, they get a chance to tell what they learned from people in the book as well as tell how what they learned can benefit them in the later lives after school.
We wish to thank officials from the New York Archdiocese for their leadership with this program, including Dr. Mary Jane Krebbs and Dr. Jackie LoFaro, and thank the faculty and
students from Moore Catholic, Cathedral High and Msgr Scanlan for their enthusiasm and support during the initial phase of "Everyday Giver."
In 2008/09 school year, the Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham will work with the Center for Catholic Leadership at Fordham to grow the program into a model that can help students everywhere learn how the theme, moving forward by doing for others, can become a guiding philosophy, one that enhance their volunteer experiences during school - and provide them with a solid foundation for a rich and fulfilling life.
For more information contact:
Human Resiliency Institute at Fordham