Upper School Christian Service
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
- Saint Augustine
At Austin Prep, we are dedicated to the formation of the whole person: enlightening the mind, but never at the expense of engaging the heart. One of the three core values of the Augustinian Order is caritas - charity. It is through this charism that Austin Prep community members are able to take what they’ve learned on campus and animate it through acts for others in the community beyond Willow Street. The primary goal of the Austin Prep Service Program is to facilitate opportunities of direct service, where students meet individuals who are in need, who are at the heart of deep suffering and injustice, face to face. Likewise, the service done should directly benefit and alleviate the people who are suffering.
Christian Service is compassion and outreach to those who are dealing with the injustices of our times and to meet the needs of the oppressed and suffering. It is a call to action in response to the Works of Mercy, Corporal and Spiritual and to take steps towards realizing the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching. It serves the Church and its ministry. We believe that the Christian Service program provides valuable opportunities to our Austin Prep students to use their gifts to become agents of service in their school, parishes, neighborhoods, and the world. Service should not be done within your own family, nor for pay, nor for-profit organizations.
There is often confusion between the difference between Community Service vs Christian Service. While Community Service is important and encouraged, a distinction will be made for service hours to meet requirements at Austin Prep. If there is any doubt, you should always check with the Coordinator of Service via the pre-approval form (found on student Veracross page) about whether your service will meet the criteria.
Here are some examples which might help in differentiating the two.
Students may find possible service locations and opportunities using this list. Please note that contact information for these organizations are subject to change. Students are not limited to these opportunities, and are encouraged to seek out their own opportunities which meet their own passions in serving others. Students should always contact a location prior to attending to schedule their service. Some locations also have training and background checks needed to work with their populations.
The commitment of service to others is a graduation requirement for all Austin Prep Upper School students. Students must complete 10 hours of service each year that they are enrolled in the Upper School for a total of 40 hours by the end of their senior year to be eligible for graduation. This graduation requirement is absolute and non-negotiable as service makes up a significant portion of the Austin Prep Mission. The deadline for senior service hours as well as the Senior Service Paper for is the first week of April. Grades 9-11 should have completed and submitted their hours by the end of April.
Students should seek approval using the Pre-Approval Google form located on the Student Portal on Veracross. Approved hours should be submitted through the MobileServe App.
Service Program Process
Select your service site and seek approval. Many students find their service sites through Austin Prep programs and clubs. However, you are also welcome to seek out service opportunities that are closer to home or which help populations that you feel especially called to serve. Once you have decided on where you’d like to serve, you must have your site officially approved. To do this, you will need to complete the Service Approval Google Form.
Commit to your service. Once you’ve been approved, reach out to your service site and begin serving! Remember, we are not the experts on who needs help or how to help them. Arrive with an open mind, a flexible and willing spirit, and a positive attitude. Ask questions about how you can be most helpful today and engage with the people you are serving. HAVE FUN! You have the power to make this either a miserable assignment or a meaningful and potentially life-changing experience.
Log your hours. Hours are to be submitted through the MobileServe app. As you complete your service, keep in mind that you will need the contact information, email address, and signature of your site supervisor. A photo of your service should also be submitted. Please make sure to check with the site supervisor about taking photos, especially in settings with young children. In cases where you cannot take photos while doing the service, you may submit photos of yourself with staff and other volunteers, or in front of a location's sign or building.
Senior Service Paper
Seniors at Austin Prep will have experienced at least 40 hours of significant and meaningful service, though most students find that they have far exceeded this requirement. The Senior Service Paper provides these students the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned about God, themselves, and others throughout their entire service experience at Austin Prep. The Senior Service Paper Guidelines can be found here.