As part of the University of Mobile’s 50th anniversary celebration, the administration agreed to let all of their students skip classes this past Friday! Sound a little crazy? Sit back and enjoy because it’s crazy good!
Dr. Mark Foley, president of the University of Mobile, explained to FoxTen News that the university is a Christian school, and one of the most important parts of their whole university experience is to reach out to people in their community by sending their students out on service projects. This has been a tradition which has been practiced on a smaller scale for years at the University of Mobile.
Foley explained, “As you know, we are a Christian university; we seek to amplify the teachings of Christ. One of the things he said very clearly is go help people, not for any return; just because the need exists. We think that’s one of the most important things we can explain to our students who are coming through; that there is a responsibility as a member of the community to look for ways to help people around you.”
Therefore, in an effort to continue that tradition and celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary, this past Friday, instead of attending classes, more than a thousand students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees went out in teams to more than 50 different locations, mostly throughout Mobile but also to Baldwin county, to volunteer a whole day of service.
Foley told FoxTen News on Friday, “We have set aside an entire day, closing the school in its normal functions to send an army of probably eleven hundred or more students, faculty, and staff into the community to help.”
To make the project more meaningful to the university’s students, each academic department chose a service project which would impact people, but would also be meaningful to them. So some led choir rehearsals in nursing homes, some gave blood pressure checks, some worked in homeless shelters, some taught children proper hygiene and hand washing techniques to prepare them for flu season, and some assisted the elderly with home repairs and maintenance.
Foley said, “We want to saturate this city with a very real example of how you transform a nation. You do it by investing in someone’s life, and allowing that experience to touch your own life. Our university has always had an emphasis on service. We hope this day puts an exclamation point on that.”
Sounds a little like my blog about the Salwen family’s concept of The Power of Half, doesn’t it? What a great message to teach young people!
Dr. Foley went on to say, “University of Mobile Project Serve has the potential to change lives in our community as well as on our campus.”
I am sure that it did just that. In my experience, you get back so much more than you give when you serve others. So, I am sure these young people felt the joy and satisfaction that serving others brings. And I am equally sure that their willingness to serve touched the lives of the people in their community, thus forging a bond between the university and its surrounding community which will hopefully grow stronger with each year’s new project.
Our hats are off to Dr. Foley and the staff and students of the University of Mobile. What a wonderful way to spend a day learning lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom!