Sun Devils feed families, tutor children during Day of Service

Employee group poses at St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix.
Jan 21, 2020

More than 30 Sun Devils from ASU Business and Finance fed families and tutored children during a Day of Service on Jan. 13 at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Employees prepped food, set tables, and served dozens of local families in need of nutritious meals at St. Vincent de Paul’s Family Dining Room in Downtown Phoenix.

“St. Vincent de Paul does a tremendous amount of good for our community,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU’s executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, who volunteered at the recent Day of Service event. “They show us all how to engage with and help our most vulnerable community members with pride and respect.”

SVdP provides the equivalent of 2.4 million meals across its six area dining rooms and 20 partner agencies, including the Phoenix-based Family Dining Room, which serves 125,000 evening meals annually.

Unlike typical community kitchens, the Family Dining Room goes beyond providing meals for the food insecure.

“Volunteer waiters create a restaurant-style experience that helps families be served with dignity,” said Brandon Buck, volunteer engagement officer at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Phoenix.

Families sit at clothed dining tables where ASU Business and Finance employee volunteers set up tables, took orders, served meals, and cleared tables. At the recent Day of Service event, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra members also played music as families ate.

Sun Devil volunteers who did not serve guests dinner chose to spend their time in the Dream Center, a children’s learning space that helps youngsters sustain positive study skills.

“Volunteers act as tutors and buddies to spend quality time with children that are living in homes that may be stressful and may not include much time for homework,” said Buck. “This is a chance for these children to maintain momentum in school and be exposed to positive role models in a fun setting.”

Buck said that volunteers are vital to SVdP’s mission to promote the healing benefits of service, with Sun Devils playing a pivotal role.

“ASU is a force multiplier in our efforts,” Buck said. “We see a constant stream of ASU students, faculty, and staff advancing our mission through volunteer hours, class projects, internships and other community events.”

In addition to the Family Dining Room and Dream Center, SVdP also provides housing, medical and dental clinics, as well as clothing and furniture via SVdP thrift stores. The organization’s network of 83 volunteer-run food pantries deliver approximately 150,000 food boxes to people in their homes.

Founded in 1946, the Phoenix Diocesan Council for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the largest in the nation, with more than 6,000 volunteers across 81 Arizona locations.