It may be a well-known saying of Mother Teresa’s, but it’s one Katie Long, DSHA ’19, takes to heart: “Do small things with great love.”
Long’s passion for serving others, which began at a young age, came to life at DSHA. Initially, she had the intent to fulfill service requirements, but she ended up with the desire to do more after her experiences inspired her in a way she could not ignore.
While she spent most of her time in service doing yard work, stocking shelves at food pantries, or helping teachers with paperwork, Long realized that no matter what she did, she was making an impact.
“All of my actions in service add up,” she said. “Whether I’m sorting out boxes or handing out food, it’s part of a bigger project.”
Putting faces to hunger
Long eventually found a home in the service world: the House of Peace food pantry, a food bank that typically serves those who need emergency food aid.
Long said she worked mostly behind-the-scenes, sorting rice and pasta, stocking shelves and putting bags of food together, among other small tasks. But once she gained a rapport with House of Peace, they gave her a job that put her face-to-face with the hungry.
She was tasked with calling out the name of a client, and when that client came up to the counter, to hand them a bag full of food. This bag of food was like one of the “small, behind-the-scenes” projects she would regularly do in her previous role.
“I saw how much need there is in our own community,” she said. “It wasn’t the same people coming up—there were single moms, veterans, people who had lost their jobs. They all had different circumstances, but they all had the same food insecurity.”
Long saw the issue of hunger on a personal level while handing out bags of food to clients. She saw people who were not sure where, or if, they were receiving their next meal.
“In the back of the food pantry, there seems to be so much food, and so many shelves. But then you see how many people need it, and you’re putting a face to the need,” Long said.
At House of Peace, Long developed relationships, especially with the director of the food pantry.
Those people who actively work every day to change lives inspire Long to take action in her own community. “They’ve invested their life in this,” Long said. “They inspire me to continue volunteering.”
And those inspiring figures also help her find God in the service she performs. “I see God in the work some people put in to improve other people’s lives,” she said. “When I see God work through other people’s lives, I see how God has worked through my life as well.”
Stronger in faith
Long credits DSHA with her growth in confidence and her drive to do more. In addition to serving the greater Milwaukee community, she also gave some of her time to the DSHA community through various activities in Campus Ministry.
“I always find myself coming back to my faith, especially being in an environment like DSHA,” Long said.
Long was one of several students who received the Salvatorian Service Award at the end of the school year. This award recognizes seniors whom consistently embrace the call to serve others beyond the graduation requirement. The students who received the award completed more than 100 hours of service freshman through junior year and completed more than 20 hours of service during the first semester of senior year, before they participated in Vocare, a two-week immersion service experience in January.
Long knows her service experiences that she gained at DSHA will equip her as she steps outside the walls of the school and into the greater community as she attends Marquette University.
“(When you serve,) you’re stepping into the real world or someone else’s reality,” she said. “When I go to serve a community, I’m not there to solve all their problems, but to walk with them and understand what it’s like. I do service to understand the world more.”
SALVATORIAN SERVICE AWARD
Recipients from the Class of 2019
Bonnie Raechel Beres
DSHA Quality of a Graduate: She is a Believer — She is a BELIEVER who relies on Catholic Christian values which encourage her to act on God’s call to recognize her gifts and use her voice to pursue justice, live with integrity, and actively improve her world. A faith-filled role model, she demonstrates the high respect and compassion for herself and for others by living a life that makes a difference.