My Service Journey At Bishop Manogue


Sarah Leary, Contributor

As a Catholic, a former Sodality officer, creator and president of a service club and student council’s former Commissioner of Service, I tend to consider myself a service enthusiast. The definition of service is to actively help someone. However, I have learned to believe that service is a symbiotic relationship. I may not be Mother Teresa, but I am excited to share what I have learned so far, and also share how we can all get more involved in service around Bishop Manogue.

My first experience of choosing to participate in school service took place around this time, exactly 3 years ago. My brother, Brandon Leary, who was a junior at the time, his best friend and I became involved in a project Mr. Galli was leading. Our task was to receive about 20 bags each from him. Then we had papers with instructions that we stapled to them. We placed these bags on all of our neighbor’s porches. The goal was to get them to fill the bag with whatever extra non-perishable food they had sitting in the back of their pantry. They would then put these back on their porches. To our surprise, our neighbors actually participated, even the ones we were slightly afraid of. This was a great experience that my brother and I shared, and one I will never forget. We bonded over the excitement of looking through the bags to see what our neighbors had lying around. The one we laughed at the most was from our good friends, as they put in sundried tomatoes and some special Italian seasonings and pasta boxes.

Another fun memory from this experience was how freezing and windy it was that day. I remember bundling up in several layers and looking like a total dork. Because of this, my brother felt it would be beneficial for him to drive, while I jumped out and collected all the heavy bags. At one point I was standing in front of his car and he began to drive away. He hit me with his car. Luckily I was totally fine, and I quickly resumed my routine. This was just one of the fun and unforgettable memories we shared from this experience. We dropped off about 25 bags to the school that Sunday. Then Monday morning we realized we still had about 10 more bags. We had to walk these heavy bags from the gym entrance doors all the way to the Campus Ministry office. On this voyage the bags broke from the bottom and we practically crawled half the way there. These are the lengths we would go for service. Despite the struggles and embarrassment, we felt so invested in this project. We are still able to look back at this and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

I think it is fair to say that this experience really sparked something inside of me, because from that point on I made it my mission to be as involved in our school’s service as possible. This was my freshman year, and I was unfortunately not cool enough to be in leadership at that point, despite my new found excitement. Luckily the next year I joined Mrs. Sexton’s leadership class, and she really created a monster! I also joined Sexton’s Sodality club. Sophomore year (up until March) was a very successful year for our Sodality club. I participated in the canned food drive we did with sister Carmen. This was special because it was her last year with our Diocese. We also had a service opportunity where we held a toy drive, then visited Holy Child day care, and brought them the wrapped toys. We brought Mr. Galli along and he dressed up as Santa Clause. This was such an amazing experience for me. The joy we brought to the kid’s faces (the ones who were not afraid of a bunch of strangers) was so fulfilling. This experience even inspired me to apply to work at a preschool closer to my house. I am still working there, and it is one of my favorite things in my life.

Another key point from this field trip that I could never forget is the drive. This took place a couple weeks after I got my driver’s license. I ended up at the destination just fine, but the drive back to Manogue was where I got into some trouble. The facility was just off of Lander street, but somehow I ended up on Neil road, then eventually Veterans Parkway. I have never been so lost in my life. Eventually I made it back to Manogue to finish my school day. I’ll never forget the look on Jason Sterrett’s face when I explained to him why I was late with my return to school.

Luckily for me, the next service opportunity was right across the street from In’n’Out, and therefore it was impossible for me to get lost again. This next service event was honestly life changing for me. It made me realize that service is not just something to do for fun, but it is something that can make a significant difference on not just those we serve, but on ourselves as well. We wrote Valentine’s day cards for the elderly, and even got to deliver them. This was just a month before shut downs and masks and procedures became our reality. We went in and met so many senior citizens and hand delivered these cards and told them they are loved. As we did this, it really got me thinking. We gave cards saying “God loves you” to people who had lost their parents, their spouses, and even their children. I will never forget this woman who was in the section of the facility for residents who have dementia. She was not in her room when we dropped her card off. She did not know this, but I watched her return to her room and find the card. She looked so surprised that something could have been dropped off for her. She almost started to cry. I have no idea who this woman was or what she had been through, but at that moment it did not matter. Nothing in my life mattered at that moment either. It did not matter who I was dating or who I was friends with, or how many people I Snapchatted with or how many followers I had on Instagram. All that mattered was this connection I had with this woman, without even personally interacting with her. I knew at that moment that something I did had an impact on her mental health. This was the life changing part. I knew that I always wanted to do whatever I could to get that feeling again.

Later that month I began my run for Commissioner of Service. I was elected for the position and was extremely excited. I was also elected for a position as the events coordinator for the Sodality club. Running for this position was a no brainer to me, because of how much being a part of Sodality affected my life. Then COVID hit and I learned my service events for my junior year would have to be online. I donated hundreds of toys from a toy drive we had before COVID to an organization called Ashlee’s Toy Closet. The toys were then donated to children who had lost their homes in the California wildfire that summer. I then conducted a virtual drive for Operation Christmas Child. Thanks to the people who participated, we were able to give over a thousand dollars to children in 3rd world countries who would not otherwise be receiving Christmas presents. I conducted a sock drive for Forever 14, an organization that is very important to me because it is in honor of Caleb Stenvold, a young man I attended middle school and a year of high school with who very unfortunately took his own life at the age of 14. His mother runs this organization in his memory. She conducts crazy sock drives and donates the socks to the homeless around our community. Another drive I conducted was a book drive for the children’s cabinet. We raised about $400 worth of books. It brought me so much joy to see their librarian’s face when I opened my car and she saw all the books. I also ran a bake sale for the Children’s Cabinet, but with Sodality. We raised hundreds of dollars for them. Another drive we held was a dental hygiene drive for our community’s homeless. We gathered so many supplies I could not carry the box. Another drive we held was a blood drive with Vitalant. Since I turned 16, I have donated blood any chance I get. These are important to me because when my older brother was born with Down Syndrome, he was in need of open heart surgery, and therefore he was in need of blood donations.

This leads me to my most recent service project. This year my student council position is Commissioner of Events. As fun as it is to be the lead chair for all of our spirit weeks, I still feel a need to complete service in order to be fulfilled. I also noticed that with all the charities and organizations in need, we rarely, if not never, conduct service for those with disabilities. As someone who lives with an individual with Down Syndrome, helping those with disabilities holds a significant place in my heart. That is exactly why I started the St. Michael’s Club. St. Michael the archangel is known as the protector, and I felt it was appropriate because I have spent my life feeling a type of protection over the community of those with Down Syndrome. Additionally, Michael is my brother Tyler’s middle name, the brother who inspired this all. I was so nervous when I started this club. I have given my pitch about it no less than a hundred times but I thought for sure that I would be lucky to have about 10 members. I was especially intimate by my past involvements with Sodality. I felt this way because Sodality is about just as old as Manogue, and is our school’s biggest club ever. I felt like my club would be absolutely nothing, when we already had such a great service club. To my surprise, there were more students who felt the same way I did. Within 2 days of opening the club, I gained 80 members. So far this year our club has held a bake sale, which raised over $200 for the Down Syndrome network of Northern Nevada. We also volunteered for a Trunk or Treat for the organization, RAVE. RAVE is an organization that provides childcare for families who have children with special needs. While we are still in our early stage, I am so thankful for everyone who has become involved in this club. My hope is to pass this club down and make it a part of Manogue’s history.

While I am proud of everything I have accomplished with my involvement, there are additional opportunities for more students. Another club that is deep in Manogue’s history is the Squires club. I remember this club being pretty dynamic my freshman year, as it was ran by our beloved Mr. Ugalde. By my sophomore year my brother, Brandon Leary became Squires President. Squires is the male counterpart to our Sodality club. They hold a toy drive for Christmas every year. Unfortunately, once COVID hit during my brother’s year in office, they were unable to hold elections for future officers and Mr. Ugalde retired. Therefore, the Squires club was inactive for a year. This is why I held the toy drive that Christmas, rather than the Squires. Luckily this year, Alex Enard is the new President of Squires. Enard took this club over as he remembers that my brother told him years ago that he would like him to take it over. Now we all look forward to watching Manogue’s young men get as involved in service as us young ladies are.

All of those moments that have taken place in my life over these past 4 years culminate to why community service means so much to me. As previously mentioned, service truly is a symbiotic relationship. I believe what makes Manogue so special is that we get to live out our faith, and service goes directly with the bible, and with Jesus’s teachings. I am proud that I have been able to make the impact that I have, and I encourage all younger classmen to do the same. The thing I learned through all of this, is that service feels so far from work. It feels natural, and extremely innate. My hope as I graduate is that all of our student body can share this love, and carry on our Manogue tradition.

(Bishop Manogue Student Council with all of the Socks from our Crazy Sock Drive) 10-11-21