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Program Outcomes

Through food, conversation, and reflection, Labre’s relational ministry creates the conditions for the emergence of a personal justice that deeply resonates with SLU’s Jesuit mission and identity. In the process of bearing witness to the humanness and dignity of their friends, both the students and their friends are changed by the emergence of a more just relationship between one another. They become “more human” and more dignified together, which, in turn, promotes greater mental and emotional wellbeing for all the participants involved.

That being said, Labre students do not track their activities and impact in the traditional way (how many people fed, how many hours served, or how many donations received). Instead, they take great care in understanding the quality of their connections and the depths of their relationships. They worry whether their friends have someone with whom to laugh or cry. They stand with their friends in the presence of, and during confrontations with, law enforcement. They read the novels and journals their friends write for them. They help their friends move to different

Table 3.2 Student Survey on Service 2012/2013 - Labre Volunteers (» = 13)

Item

Percentage

My service experience (s)...

Gave me a greater respect for others’ differences and diverse backgrounds

Enriched my personal identity (e.g., self-understanding, values and beliefs)

Moved me to a deeper concern for social justice and equality

Strengthened/affirmed my faith and/or spirituality

Agree/Strongly Agree

  • 100
  • 100
  • 100
  • 68

locations when they are evicted from their camping spots. In addition, they make sure to say goodbye to their friends when they graduate or when their friends move to a different city. They do all these things to create the conditions for more socially just human relationships that move society closer to human flourishing.

Although relationship quality is difficult to assess, just as the CSCE’s Student Survey on Service can target the outcomes of Campus Kitchen volunteers, we can do the same for Labre participants in 2012 and 2013 (see Table 3.2). Again, the survey items encouraged respondents to reflect on dimensions of their understanding, values, spirituality, and identity, asking that they rate their level of agreement.

The Labre members, while relatively small in number when compared to Campus Kitchen volunteers, show evidence of personal impact and learning. In part because Labre identifies as a “ministry” and more directly incorporates prayer, it is not surprising that they more favorably rate the spiritual impact of their experiences. Nevertheless, they also indicate near complete agreement with the other areas of impact. Father Kolvenbach (2008) is famous for saying: “Solidarity is learned through ‘contact’ rather than ‘concepts.’ When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change” (p. 155). Students who participate in Labre clearly have direct contact with individuals on the margins of our community, and their way of thinking is dramatically altered. As one Labre student leader remarked: “All the structures and constructs fade away and it’s really kind of liberating.”

 
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