Fairfield University's MBA students stock shelves of Operation Hope as part of National Jesuit Service Day


On Saturday, April 25, students in the MBA program at Fairfield University's Charles F. Dolan School of Business restocked the shelves of Operation Hope, a local food pantry, as part of the Jesuit MBA National Day of Service. That day, the Dolan School students along with every Jesuit MBA program nationwide did a community outreach project, from Loyola New Orleans's students who rebuilt houses to Marquette University's students who helped with the city's Hunger Clean-Up.

The Dolan School students decided a food drive would fill a great need this year to help those who are struggling during these turbulent times, especially as food pantries across the country face challenges keeping up with demand. Meanwhile, area food pantries receive a lot of food during winter but often lack enough food during the spring and summer to continue to feed the community.

Lisa Muehlbauer, a graduate student who helped coordinate the effort, said Operation Hope expressed a dire need for donations. Organized by the Dolan Graduate Business Association (DGBA), a student-run organization, the day of giving back followed a non-perishable canned food drive on campus during which students, staff and faculty dropped off food in a collection bin in the Dolan School lobby. Muehlbauer said, "The Dolan Graduate Business Association came up with the idea to host a can drive, with all donations going to Operation Hope, a charity located only miles away from the university. The DGBA chose to host a can drive in an effort to help those within the Fairfield community who are struggling during these tough economic times."

The students' service project embodies the Jesuit tradition of educating the whole person while servicing the community in an attempt to move an individual from experience to reflection to action. Muehlbauer said the food drive was a great way to involve all students in an effort to help the community while practicing the Jesuit values that Fairfield University was founded upon. "I got involved with the Jesuit MBA National Day of Service because I was raised to always give back to your community, and I think it is especially crucial during such difficult times that people come together and help one another. It is rewarding to meet other students who share the passion and desire to help."

Dr. Dana A. Wilkie, assistant dean and director of graduate programs for the Dolan School, said that there has been tremendous interest among the JesuitMBA Network, a consortium of the programs nationwide, in undertaking the service days. "It reflects the Jesuit value of helping others."

Norm Solomon, Ph. D. dean of the Dolan School, said service is an important part of the Fairfield experience for both undergraduates and graduate students. "It is inspired by Fairfield University's educational mission to promote social justice."

In 2007, Fairfield was one of the 27 Jesuit universities nationwide offering graduate business programs that participated in the first-ever Jesuit MBA Day of Service. Each school's master's degree candidates took on a different service work project. Past Fairfield projects have included an Operation Hope food drive and partaking in the Make-A-Wish Foundation's first annual 5K "Walk for Wishes" at Jennings Beach.

Operation Hope provides a variety of helpful services to people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness. A majority of program participants first contact Operation Hope when they are in need of assistance with housing, shelter and food. Often, they are already homeless. The Shelter and Food programs, which include a community kitchen and food pantry, offer emergency assistance.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 30, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 328