Menlo College fall sport student-athletes took time out of their training camps to give back to a community in need earlier this month.
Athletes from men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball and cross country organized a two-day servant leadership project to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul San Francisco Shelter.
St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco started in 1860 and now serves more than 1,000 people in need every single day. They rely heavily on volunteers from the local community to make sure facilities are ready and capable to support those in need.
Menlo College athletes and coaches began the service project by forming an assembly line of sorts to prepare bagged lunches for 240 people a feat they managed to accomplish with remarkable speed and precision, completing the task in just 20 minutes.
Tables were set up inside Haynes-Prim Pavilion on the Menlo campus with athletes making fresh sandwiches -- adding assorted food items into bags to be transported to the shelter the next day.
"It was very rewarding to see every one of our student-athletes working together to organize and construct bagged lunches for the shelter," said head volleyball coach Atlee Frechette. "I loved seeing the enthusiasm on our student-athletes faces and in their actions, knowing they were playing a part in providing a meal to someone less fortunate."
That Sunday, the student-athletes loaded onto the Caltrain and headed to San Francisco to deliver the bagged lunches and perform various tasks to help with the shelter's daily operations. Groups of 5 to 15 student-athletes broke off to help the shelter with various tasks including: folding and washing laundry, cleaning beds, cleaning the facility's kitchen, washing walls and aiding in food preparation.
After nearly three hours of serving the shelter, the Oaks rode Caltrain back to Menlo College and concluded the day with a department bonding event at the campus pool.
"This was both a humbling and inspiring experience," said cross country head coach Dan Noel. "It was humbling to see how many people wait in line just hoping for a bed for the night and inspiring to work alongside the team at St Vincent de Paul, who dedicate their lives to fighting homelessness in San Francisco. As coaches, we were so proud of how engaged and invested our athletes were in this experience."
The idea for this project came from the department's commitment to providing its student-athletes with a servant-minded, well-rounded approach to the intercollegiate athletics experience. Each student-athlete completes 30 hours of community service each year.
"Lending a hand at St. Vincent de Paul was a great experience for the athletes and coaches alike," said men's soccer head coach Eric Bucchere. "It helped us understand the bigger picture about being part of the Menlo family and the larger Bay Area Community. At the end of the day we all felt like one Menlo team, and like we made a small difference in a positive way."
Head women's soccer coach Keith Lambert agreed.
"This type of activity really exemplifies what we want our student-athletes to experience," he said. "Often times we get so wrapped up in our own lives and problems that we forget about the bigger picture and that some people struggle with basic needs. St. Vincent de Paul is a fantastic organization doing some much needed work and we were happy to help them that day."