by Ben Quach ’27
A few weeks ago, we had an optional day of service when students could use the day off during the school year to complete their required Christian Service Program (CSP) hours. And coming up is a required freshman day of service on October 11th and Fall Break, providing some more days to get hours in. Completing CSP service hours is a constant part of being a Bell, something every class is required to do.
A Bellarmine graduate from the class of 2002, Mr. Desumala has been the director of CSP since August of last year. As a student here at Bell, he was the president of the CSP Core Group (the predecessor of AGAPE) and logged over 850 service hours.
When asked how students use these optional days of service, Mr. Desumala said that “kids love using them,” with time usage “on par with after school and on weekends.” Using last year’s x2VOL report, he says that 150 students logged hours for September 19th, which he considers to be quite a bit. Additionally, every class, freshmen through seniors, use optional days of service, with a range of four to eight hours per day.
I asked Mr. Desumala whether he recommends that a student complete their service hours all at once, in one fell swoop, or to spread them out over multiple days. The CSP director said, “There’s definitely an advantage to both. If you’re busy and have a lot going on, it’s better to do them all at once.”
That’s why these days exist. ‘Because the maximum number of hours you can log for one day is ten hours, that’s already more than half of what most students have to complete,” said Mr. Desumala. The CSP department understands that students can have a lot on their plate, so these optional days of service set aside time for them “on a day that would otherwise be a school day.”
But for those who can spread their days out, Mr. Desumala said, “It provides a great opportunity to get relationships with agencies.” Rather than a few days at an agency every so often, “you can build a lot of relations and connections with the clients and their stories, so you can provide meaningful work.”
Mr. Desumala says CSP is structured to work with your needs. “We’re at the mercy of everyone else. Because at the end of the day, these clients and agencies are still getting the help they need,” regardless of when and how you do your service.
He would also like students to know about this year’s Justice Summit on socio-economic justice, with a focus on mental health. Also, the Solidarity Sleepout and Celebration of Song concert will be on Nov. 9 in support of the Winter Warmth Drive. Sign-ups are coming out soon.
Bottom line: “A life of service is part of being a Bell for life.”