1L Daniel Gross and 1L Chris Washington at Abbott Park.
Incoming first year law students completed Orientation on Thursday, August 23 but instead of sleeping in or hanging out on the beach the following day, many of them participated in the College of Law’s inaugural 1L Service Day. The College of Law’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (“PBCSI”) and Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) planned and organized the 1L Service Day, with the support of University Ministry in the Loop, the Vincentian Endowment Fund, and the Office of Law Admissions.
Along with nearly 80 1L volunteers, College of Law staff and 2L’s and 3L’s volunteered as site leaders. They included Sami Silverstein (3L), Rebecca Birger (3L), Jessika Coe (2L), Sam Keen (2L), Megan Davis (2L), Alisa Rosales (Associate Director, Law Career Services), Francine Soliunas (Assistant Dean, Community Affairs and Outreach), Allen Moye (Director, Law Library), Catherine Diebel (Associate Director, International Human Rights Law Institute), Shaye Loughlin (Executive Director, CPIL), Cheryl Price (PBCSI Director), and Margaret Duval (Project Director, CPIL).
Students volunteered at four sites: Pershing East Magnet School, Crispus Attucks Elementary School, Abbott Park, and Casa Central. At Pershing East and Crispus Attucks, students painted classrooms and hallways. Both of these public schools serve low-income students in Chicago’s Bronzeville community. At Abbot Park, which is located at 49 E. 95th St., students mulched trees in order to protect their roots from drought and extreme weather. Students at Casa Central, which serves low-income residents in Humboldt Park, socialized with the elderly. They playing games, danced, did arts and crafts, and helped to serve lunch.
During their lunch break, site leaders lead the students in a discussion about service and volunteerism. Students talked about the importance of service and what they accomplished during the 1L Service Day. Students felt the service day was important and meaningful. According to 1L Jacqueline Horn, “This was a worthwhile experience. It was really great to give back and meet some incredible people at the school. The school principal was great and so inspiring.” 1L Charlie DeKernion echoed Jacqueline’s sentiments about the service day: “I think painting at the schools will help kids feel more confident in class and will make their school day more conducive to learning. And, I had a lot of fun.”
Shaye Loughlin, Director of the Center for Public Interest Law, also thought the day was a success. “Our law student volunteers touched a lot of lives today. Chicago’s elementary school students will walk into gleaming classrooms and hallways when they return to school after Labor Day. The trees in Abbott Park will remain healthy and vibrant as a result of the mulching, ensuring that families and children in that community have access to green space and nature. And, the volunteers at CASA Central warmed the hearts of the seniors with whom they interacted. Helping others is a great way to start law school. I hope this is only the beginning for these students. PBCSI will work hard to keep them engaged in service throughout their law school careers. ”