In the

Mercy Compassion

Making a Difference Far Beyond the Hill

students gather in front of a house with a sign that reads

$384,000: So far, that’s the financial impact of Mount Mercy’s volunteerism and service learning during the 2017–18 school year when translated into dollars.

By Leah Grout Garris

Jamarco Clark ’18 MSL,
Director of Volunteerism and Service Learning

It’s really great to be able to associate a number with our efforts to help show students the influence they have,” says Jamarco Clark ’18 MSL, director of volunteerism and service learning.

Emphasizing that there’s a distinct difference between volunteerism and service learning, Clark is focused on finding ways students can do both locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally. “Volunteering is a part of service learning,” he explains, “but service learning creates a reciprocal relationship where we can give back to the community and create educational opportunities for students at the same time.”

Whether it’s sending students down the street to Mission of Hope to serve free meals or planning a trip to Detroit to update bedrooms in a homeless shelter, Clark’s goal is to ensure that students can make a positive impact far beyond the Hill.

At the start of his freshman year, Matthew Trueblood ’20 started volunteering with Willis Dady Homeless Services in Cedar Rapids. This year, he made sure to create room in his schedule so he could continue his work there.

“I wouldn’t have thought to seek out a homeless shelter on my own,” says Trueblood. “Mount Mercy connected me with this experience. My time there has already paid off. This experience has shaped me into who I am. I have a broader understanding of the world because of what I’ve done these past two years. Now I see how big of an issue housing is in Cedar Rapids, and how one misfortune can overturn your life. Sometimes all it takes is a corporate layoff or one missed rent payment; suddenly, you’re out on the street. My experience at Willis Dady has helped develop my worldview, and that’s what I value most.”

When he’s spending time at the shelter, Trueblood says he fills whatever role they need, from answering phones to sending donation thank yous. To help Willis Dady find a more efficient way to train its team of volunteers, Trueblood also created an orientation video from start to finish—including writing the script, filming, and producing a video to send to long-distance volunteers.

For Jessica Hiney ’18, volunteering is a way to honor the doctors, nurses, and researchers at Shriners Hospitals for Children who helped her as a child. Today, she volunteers once a week with the Power Eagles wheelchair soccer team. “My service and volunteer work has taught me that doing small things with great love is just as important as doing great things that impact many,” she says.

She has participated in seven service-learning trips, with plans to fly to Guatemala in the near future for yet another volunteer opportunity. “On these trips, in a matter of days, societal and social barriers fade away,” says Hiney. “You build relationships with people you would normally never talk to. It’s so awe-inspiring to see how much can be accomplished in a matter of days, and to witness the extreme gratitude of the individuals we serve.”

“Volunteering is a way of life here,” says Jamarco Clark ’18 MSL, director of volunteerism and service learning, “not just for me—but for people all across Mount Mercy. After all, ‘Our name is Mercy; our spirit is compassion.’ ”






Summer 2017

Fall 2017
St. Louis, Missouri
Detroit, Michigan

Winter/J-Term 2018

Spring Break 2018
Beaumont, Texas

Summer 2018

By the end of the 2017–18 school year, Clark estimates that Mount Mercy will rack up 17,000+ reported volunteer hours. All types of volunteering and service learning count toward this number, as long as the hours are reported by students, staff, and faculty. Clark is confident that Mount Mercy is involved in many more volunteer opportunities beyond what’s being reported.

“Our Mustangs in Action Day on Aug. 22, 2017, helped kick-start our volunteer hours for the year,” says Clark. “We had more than 300 Mount Mercy volunteers out in the Cedar Rapids community for about seven hours, working with more than 25 nonprofits, including the Catherine McAuley Center, Jane Boyd Community Center, Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance, and Feed Iowa First.” And efforts like these are long remembered by participants.

Although Clark wasn’t in his current role yet, he still hears, for example, about the volunteer efforts of students, faculty, and staff in late September 2016 to prevent flooding in Cedar Rapids. Mount Mercy cancelled classes to help with sandbagging and other community efforts, including providing daycare services for parents who needed to focus on flood prevention at home or at work.

“Volunteering is a way of life here,” says Clark, “not just for me—but for people all across Mount Mercy. After all, ‘Our name is Mercy; our spirit is compassion.’ ” ■