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 Students Learn About Empathy with Volunteer Work

Students at one of the San Diego County Office of Education's community schools recently learned important lessons about empathy and community when they volunteered at Father Joe's Villages in San Diego.

The students from Momentum Learning's 37ECB campus worked in the kitchen, serving food to people experiencing homelessness.

The community service work is part of the school's focus this semester on empathy. After volunteering, students wrote a reflection about their experience.

Below are excerpts from three of those reflections.


"When I volunteered at Father Joe's Villages, I had an eye-opening experience…. I felt empathy with those people, especially when I saw a mother and her children. My mother has gone above and beyond to care for me, and I saw this strong mother was doing the same. I could feel her struggles and her drive to care for her children. As I did the simple task of putting rolls on a plate, I knew that it impacted so many people."

"The experience I received helped my empathy grow…. I kept thinking how I take my bed, my food in my refrigerator, etc. for granted…. I enjoyed the experience very much because I got to help people in need and see their expressions change from sad to happy. Volunteering helps the community at large by showing that we notice those who need help and we're willing to give our assistance to provide a better life for the less fortunate. I would definitely volunteer again, because the feeling of helping people was rewarding to me and well worth it."

"During my experience serving food to people at Father Joe's Villages, I felt a lot of emotions. I felt mad at first because of how many people there were that were waiting just to get food – something most of us take for granted…. I empathized with a lot of these people. You could tell some people were just broken and at the end of their happiness…. As I looked at the people in line, I just hoped that one day their lives will get better. No one deserves to be homeless and have limited access to food and shelter."


The San Diego County Office of Education operates the Momentum Learning portfolio of schools, providing a fully accredited educational program for school-age youth who are either wards of the court or have been referred by social services, probation, or one of the 42 school districts in San Diego County. Services are provided to incarcerated youth, pregnant minors, foster youth, expelled teens, chronically truant youth, students in drug treatment centers and group homes for neglected or abused children, and youth experiencing homelessness.

Momentum Learning serves nearly 5,000 students per year at more than 24 sites across the county of San Diego.