The men at the St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter were treated to a Texas-sized Super Bowl party Sunday, Feb. 6, thanks in part to a collaborative effort by volunteers from area Catholic high schools Alter, Carroll and Chaminade Julienne.
A congregation of about 30 students, parents and moderators from each school helped bring America’s biggest game from Cowboys Stadium in Dallas to the shelter’s gymnasium, located just minutes south of CJ on Apple Street in downtown Dayton.
Guests dined on a bevy of donated snacks, foods and desserts while watching the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 on a big-screen display courtesy of a projector and sound system provided by those from Carroll. All three schools teamed up with St. Vincent’s to fill out a menu that included BW3’s wings, Domino’s pizza, Mike-sell’s potato chips, homemade meatballs, fried appetizers, nachos, fruit salad, popcorn and cookies.
“Many of the guys stopped me during the evening and were very grateful to the group for making their Super Bowl Sunday a special one,” said Melissa Pangaean, manager of volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul Gateway Shelter. She, along with CJ parent Elizabeth Calhoun, were instrumental in organizing and planning the event—the first of its kind at the shelter.
According to Pangaean, who has worked at St. Vincent’s for seven years, Super Bowl Sunday is the toughest day of the year to get volunteers, so she decided to “turn a negative into a positive” by hosting a Super Bowl XLV party. As a result, over 200 men were fed and directly served by volunteers working in teams of two from 6 to 9 p.m.
“I really believe that our guests had a spectacular time,” she said.
CJ junior Maggie Switzer arrived at 4 p.m. to help with decorations and prepare food alongside fellow classmates April Grierson, ’11, Cassie Zehenny, ’11, Jacob Calhoun, ’12, Mikaela Hadaway, ’13, and Courteney Muhl, ’13. Giving up part of her weekend to help others, however, is nothing new for Switzer.
“I already volunteer at St. Vincent’s on my own, so I like going there and being involved in service in general,” she said. “Every Saturday morning at 7 a.m. I serve breakfast to the families that stay there.”
For Switzer, Sunday’s service project was also a unique opportunity to catch up with some Alter and Carroll friends she met while previously working the "Dresses for Degrees" dress sale as a member of CJ’s Key Club. The November 14, 2010 initiative involving all three Catholic high schools allowed CJ to raise $1,145 in scholarship funds for two young girls in impoverished areas of Belize.
The students’ dedication to serve others is something Pangaean said is evident amongst the members of the CJ community, a number of whom volunteer at the Gateway Shelter on a regular basis.
“It really excites me to see these kids do their [service] hours here at St. Vincent and decide to continue volunteering just because they want to.”
According to stvincentdayton.org, the St. Vincent de Paul Hotel Gateway Shelter is a 220-bed facility operating 365 days a year to provide shelter and emergency assistance to homeless men, women and families during their period of crisis.