Written by: Pono Riddle, B.S. Psychology ’18
Aloha mai kakou. My name is Andre “Pono” Riddle. I am a proud Chaminade University graduate––Class of 2018––with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
Doing a year of service had always been in the back of my mind ever since I met Marianist PULSE Coordinator Maureen O’Rourke in October 2015, when she visited and recruited for PULSE’s inaugural year. During the summer before my senior year, I participated in the week-long, 2017 LA Service Immersion trip in which students from each of the three Marianist Universities—Chaminade, University of Dayton, and St. Mary’s University—engaged in a variety of experiences fostering leadership skills in the Marianist charism, while working with local non-profits and especially with those living and working in Skid Row, America’s Homelessness capital. These experiences encouraged me to discern further and eventually commit to a year of service through Marianist PULSE following graduation.
My nonprofit placement site is with Empowering Children with Hope and Opportunity (ECHO) at the University of Dayton (UD) in the Center for Catholic Education. ECHO’s services are in 14 Catholic Schools in the Dayton area. ECHO provides children and families in faith-based schools, particularly the underserved, with skills for life by providing social and emotional services. I mainly work with three of the ECHO counselors and Family Advocate.
Some of what I do includes the following:
- I assist the ECHO counselor in teaching 2nd Step, a violence prevention program rooted in social and emotional learning for students in Pre-K through eighth grade
- I assist the ECHO Director and Family Advocate at Family Engagement events and help coordinate the annual Fall and Spring Retreats, as well as ECHO Peacemaker get-togethers. The Peacemakers are comprised of seventh and eighth graders in the schools ECHO serves; they are role models both in school and their respective communities. I had the privilege and opportunity to educate the Peacemakers about “Aloha Spirit” and how to embody it every day in everything they do, and with whom they interact
- I also co-facilitate a self-empowerment/self-esteem boys group called Kūlia Ikaika—Stand Strong.
My Marianist PULSE journey continues to be a blessing. I am embracing a new environment and all four seasons, strengthening both my spiritual and professional development and living in intentional community. Support from PULSE alumni and others affiliated with either PULSE or UD has continued to enrich my experience. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and strongly encourage those considering committing to a year of service to do so; it speaks of embracing that “Marianist bond,” which is hard to explain but is so enriching when experienced.