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Carpinteria Students Give Back by Hosting Virtual Game Nights with Residents in Supported Living

By Rae van Seenus on May 27, 2020 at 09:30 AM in UCP WORK, Inc. Blog

Servons (to serve), is a motto to student life at Cate School, shares Director of Community Engagement, Will Homes.  Although volunteering for public service hours is not required, like at most public schools, Cate focuses on giving back as a tradition and is available to students by choice.  Cate’s Public Service Night  program, which has evolved since the 1980’s, consists of a group of 5-7 high school students, that volunteer weekly at a number of local organizations and have the opportunity to engage with agency participants in games and other enrichment activities. 

One of the chosen organizations is
UCP WORK, Inc. and its Santa Barbara Supported Living program, where the same five men have lived together for close to 40 years, some starting there as teenagers themselves. The residents and their staff look forward to Wednesday Game Nights, and as tradition, they wear Cate logoed t-shirts while playing Bingo and the game SORRY!, in a non-competitive fashion.  “The public service experience is more about the ritual and getting to see familiar faces,” states Holmes, “Our students are super grounded and are in better spirits after they leave, plus they learn to take different perspectives.”  

Zoom Virtual Game Night with Adults with Developmental Disabilities in Santa Barbara
Zoom Virtual Game Night with Men Living at Manitou House

Despite the disturbance of COVID-19, Cate students continue to value the importance of consistency and volunteer weekly for Public Service Night through the use of Zoom. 

Played virtually, the games remain to be life-enriching opportunities for people with disabilities by providing online social engagement and a comfortable place to just have fun. “The guys are more outgoing when the students come on the screen. They all perk up on game night,” states UCP WORK, Inc. Life-Skills Coach, Joette Demeter.  

Cate Senior, Finnian Whelan, has been
a regular volunteer with Cate School's Public Service Night since the beginning of her sophomore year and is one-of-five leaders of the program.   She is responsible for recruiting other students and ensures that the volunteers represent Cate School appropriately.  “I really enjoy this leadership position, because it allows me to teach other students that the best way to make a difference in the local community, is to give both effort and compassion,” states Whelan.  “I get the privilege of doing little deeds, like making cookies and brownies for the men, to spread a bit of joy. One hour of baking is not a sacrifice when I see the residents smile and wave when I drop-off treats.” 


Carpinteria Students Volunteer for Game Nights with Residents in Santa Barbara Supported Living Program
Carpinteria Students Volunteer for Game Nights with Residents in Santa Barbara Supported Living Program (photo from pre-COVID19)

Before the stay-at-home order, the residents in our Supported Living program would get excited to go to Cate's campus for its end-of-the-year barbeque and holiday concert.  Additionally, the students coordinated ongoing fundraisers to purchase essential needs, some items as large as a kitchen table and bed.  Most importantly, the men would get to shop with the students, further supporting UCP WORK, Inc’s goals towards independence, life-skills training and community integration for adults with disabilities. 

Other local organizations involved in the
Cate School Public Service Night program are PATH, Transition House, Shepherd Place Apartments, and Cornerstone House.

Visit UCP WORK, Inc.’s
Explore Our Programs page for more information about enrichment programs and quality services offered to people with disabilities living in the Tri-Counties.