Clarion, Pa.- “Be the change and serve:” that was the message of the Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement Feb. 28 as they hosted the
first annual ABLE Service Summit in the Gemmell Student Complex from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The gathering focused on giving students the knowledge necessary to answer three questions: What is service? What’s the point? And, how can I do it?
Contracted to help with this mission was the keynote speaker for the event, Rick King, the executive director of Chosen International Medical Assistance in Erie.
His work has consisted of international disaster relief and outreach through his church.
The keynote, titled “The Two Most Important Dates,” was split into two speeches that served as bookends for the day’s sessions. These dates, as King described, are birthdays and the days when people find out why they are here and effectively why they should serve.
King said, “It’s time for no more excuses; it’s time to just get off our butts. Service is taking time to do something for somebody that takes the focus off yourself.”
The remainder of the day, allowed the students in attendance the right to choose what sessions they wanted to participate in.
Three time blocks with three sessions in each provided different experiences Some participants learned about animals in need while others found out how to apply service to the real world.
Joseph and Kathy Croskey’s workshop, “Why the ____ should I serve?” was all about having those who attended answer the question of why to serve for themselves.
The importance of self-reflection was emphasized in this presentation, as inner values often correlate with actions and, in the case of the Croskeys’ session, why people serve.
“The more self-aware you are might improve your ability to serve and help you
realize we are all connected,” said Joseph Croskey.
This related back to King’s speeches, as the theme of people bearing burdens for each other was ever prevalent throughout the summit.
King remarked, “There’s more for us to do; it’s never-ending. We all have to help carry the burden, so it makes it easier to handle.”
He demonstrated that even small acts like opening a door for someone can have great impact in a community of peers and strangers.
The students who attended had a lot to say about the summit. ABLE member Torron Mollett said, “This event is important because it just doesn’t teach about service and why it’s important, but it also teaches you knowledge and why we should serve.”
Another participant and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Michael Cesare said, “I absolutely enjoyed the event, and it opened my eyes to how I can get involved.”
Event committeeperson for the summit and ABLE adviser, Kelly Ryan, was pleased with the event. Vice President of ABLE Service, Lydia Whisler, said she saw the day as a success and especially so as this was the first time they hosted the summit.
Whisler concluded, “I was pleased with the speakers who volunteered and the keynote.” ABLE plans to host the annual event again next year.