NDA Serves: Special Day for Both the Community & the Students

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“NDA Serves is an opportunity for all students, faculty, staff and parents to volunteer their time to do service work and learn about the needs of our local community,” explains Donna Clement, secretary to the principal and the coordinator of the whole program.

Originally a fundraising walk-a-thon, NDA Serves turned into a day designated for service and service alone. It’s considered a school day, with attendance reported wherever the student is working. After three hours of work, students are released for the remainder of the school day.

According to Mrs. Carolyn Brown, former Student Government adviser,  the first NDA Serves was a trial run of about 150 students and was organized through the Outreach Branch of Student Government.  It was so successful that the next year saw the entire school going out in service to the community.

“Dr. Gross, our president at the time, was the man behind the idea,” she explained.  “Of course, he gave the ball to Student Government, and until Mrs. Clement took over, the task was an arduous one for Student Government advisers.”

“Back then,” added Brown, “students still collected pledges for their service hours, and the original NDA Serves was a fundraiser, just like the walk-a-thon had been.”

Now the day is totally service, no fundraising attached. It is the 18th NDA Serves.

“There is a real variety of tasks to choose from,” Clement said. “Both indoor and outdoor work is accomplished. Indoors, there is cleaning, organizing, painting, tutoring, office work, helping in classrooms and working on school projects. Outdoors there is raking, planting, cleaning up trash, and any general yardwork, depending on the site. One of the sites requires preparing gardens and working in stables.”

Students look forward to the day for a break from desk work, and all of the recipients are extremely grateful for any help.

“After the event each year, we receive many thank you notes with wonderful things to say about the students,” said the coordinator.  Notre Dame Academy students are praised, she explained, for being polite and helpful. “Sites look forward to having us return each year to provide the help that is needed.”

“Hopefully, everyone can find a place to enjoy their hours of service,” she said.

However, she is not worried that people will be miserable. There is a wide variety of places and jobs, so students are guaranteed to find a good fit for their talents.

“Some of the most popular places are former grade schools, Bay Beach, the Wildlife Sanctuary, the Great Pillow Fight, and St. John’s Homeless Shelter.”

NDA Serves is an essential day for the school because it all ties back to the Catholic faith, said Clement. “It is an important extension on our school’s mission, rooted in our Gospel call to serve.”