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Valhaven Volunteering: Service Opportunity takes the Spotlight

Valhaven+Volunteering%3A+Service+Opportunity+takes+the+Spotlight

Four pieces of tape hold a piece of paper posted to the outside of the computer lab. Donning the top of the paper are two large bolded words: “Service Hours”. As one of the five Benedictine values, service holds great weight at Mount Michael. So much so that in order to graduate, students are required to complete one hundred service hours. From food pantries to team managers, students take on many endeavors to complete this task. However, within the last year, a new service opportunity has risen in popularity—Valhaven.

Valhaven is a care and rehabilitation center located in Valley, Neb. Only a 10 minute drive from Mount Michael, it provides a convenient way to give back to the community. 

While Valhaven has grown recently in popularity among the student body, it is not new to the Mount Michael community. Valhaven’s ties with Mount Michael date back to around seven years ago. Originally, Father John started encouraging students to attend, as some of the monks were housed at the care facility. “It gave us a chance to visit our own monks. I can’t remember exactly what year that was, but I know it was 5 or 7 years ago,” Father John said. 

In its infancy, the volunteer group was made of mostly seven-day borders that Father John transported to and from the home. “At that time, we played card games with the residents, mostly four corners. It was really fun.” said Fr. John.

Boarders continued going to Valhaven until 2020 when Covid hit. During its hiatus, students lost all opportunity to visit the residents. 

It was only until 2022 when volunteering began again. This time, however, things were different. Father John invited Ms. Ecker to join in his service efforts. In her classroom, Ms. Ecker encouraged students to attend Valhaven which grew interest and attendance.

Last year, in total 29 students volunteered at Valhaven including boarders and day students. Volunteers returned each Tuesday to visit the retirement home. While most service opportunities continually attract students for efficient service hours, Valhaven is much more than a signature on a service form. It has left a mark on its residents and also its volunteers. 

The residents never fail to make the volunteers smile with their jokes and stories. “When we walk in they’re always smiling and making us laugh. I like hearing their interesting stories,” said Finn Mutchie ‘25. Ms. Gregorson and Ms. Mickey are favorites among the students. “Ms. Gregorson is the wisest person that I’ve met. She’s cool. And Mickey’s comments are the most random but entertaining.” said Zach Wooten ‘24. Relationships like these did not end when the school year did. John Rogers ‘24, Finn Murphy ‘24, and Martin Kuhn ‘24 attended the retirement home over the summer. Apart from earning hours for their work, they saw the benefit in giving back to the community. “It was like the residents almost adopted us. I could always see them waving through the windows from the outside. It was powerful to see how a simple conversation could affect the residents,” said John Rogers ‘24.

The Valhaven volunteers have big plans for this year, including a more organized and game-filled visit. In the coming weeks they plan to refurbish the outdoor patio and garden area of the care facility. However, this can not be done alone. New students are needed and encouraged to attend this unique service opportunity. Service is more than a signature and hour on a form, it is a Benedictine value and a part of being a good human. In the words of St. Benedict, “ No one is to pursue what is judged best for oneself, but instead, what is better for someone else.”

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About the Contributor
Finn Murphy, Chief of Story
Finn joined The Mount Journalism team in 2021 as a reporter. Finn also participates in investment club, cross country, and track & field.
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