Community Outreach of Villanova (COV)

COV Images

Community Outreach of Villanova (COV) is a weekly service program which partners with community-based organizations in the Philadelphia area working around a variety of issues to create lasting social change. Through COV, participants are able to deepen their commitment to service, learn about the social justice issues which necessitate service in the first place, and reflect on who they feel called be to in light of this experience.

Getting Involved
There are several ways to get involved. You can apply to be a COV Fellow. COV Fellows commit to serving with the same partner organization for an entire semester, thereby making a deeper commitment to those they are serving. If you are unable to make the full semester committment then simply visit the Campus Ministry COV Sign-Up Board on the first floor of St. Rita’s Hall. Add your name to the sign-up sheet for the correct date and organization you’d like to serve with. On the day of service, show up to the Tracy Lounge in Campus Ministry 15 minutes before the trip is supposed to depart in order to meet your leaders, sign-in, and have a brief orientation to the experience. Transportation will be provided, and the times listed on the sign-up board include traveling time.

Please feel free to contact Lisa Mehalick  [610] 519–5178, with any questions or visit St. Rita Hall, Room B-07.


St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen
Every other Monday, beginning Monday, January 25th. 

Mondays 3:00 – 7:00PM, St. Francis is a little bit different from the typical soup kitchen since the volunteers actually serve the guests restaurant-style, creating an interactive and dignifying atmosphere. Volunteers can do anything from waiting, busing the tables, dishing out food, cleaning dishes, helping hand out desserts, working the door hand outs and sometimes organizing the extra food. St. Francis Inn forms a welcoming community grounded in caring and respect.

*Northern Children's Services

Mondays 5:45 – 8:00PM, Northern Home is a place where we interact with at risk children. It is located in Roxborough, PA right outside of Manayunk. For the first hour we tutor children (help them with basic math, science, and reading) and then for about a half an hour we play outside or we do activities such as video games, pool, and foosball inside.

St. Agatha’s Soup Kitchen

Wednesdays 4:45- 7:30PM, At St. Agatha's soup kitchen, part of the University City Hospitality Coalition, volunteers are responsible for preparing and serving the food and for cleaning up afterwards. To serve, volunteers can carry trays, serve food or pour juice. Students from other universities are usually also there. We return to campus between 7:30 and 8 p.m.

*Centro San Jose (English as a Second Language Tutor)
Mondays and/or Wednesdays 6:30-9:30PM, Centro San Jose is a ministry of St. Laurence Parish in Upper Darby that offers English as a Second Language classes to adults.  Most of the students are from Latin America, but the program is open to anyone.  Volunteers will assist teachers and work one on one or in small groups with students.  The ability to speak Spanish is not required.  Flexibility and creativity are helpful.  Please contact Tim O'Connell if you're intersted or for more information. 610-519-4084

*Elwyn (Organic Farm)
Fall Semester Only-Wednesdays 12:30-4:00PM, Elwyn operates an eight-acre farm that provides fresh organic produce to the adults with disabilities they work with in the 30 residential homes on and off campus.  The work will vary depending on the recent weather and month of the year but could include the following: harvesting crops for storage, planting and mulching garlic, weeding, and cleaning up areas where crops were grown earlier in the season. Volunteers should wear close toed, sturdy shoes and expect to get dirty.

*North Light Community Center

Thursdays 3:15 - 6:00PM, Come to the North Light Community Center to help out with the after school program. North Light houses an after-school program for children ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. We work with the students one-on-one, providing homework help, playing games and organizing arts and crafts. Join us to become a role model...and have a lot of fun!


*St. Barnabas Women’s Shelter

Thursdays 6:00 – 8:00PM, ECS St. Barnabas Mission serves women and their children experiencing homelessness, providing not only shelter but case management and related services to address the root causes of homelessness. As volunteers, we partner with CHOP to implement the SPARK Program (Safe Physical Activity and Recreation for Kids), and act as positive role models and friends. 

Holy Family Nursing Home

Saturdays 10:00AM-2:00PM,  Help serve, leader activities, and connect with the residents at this Kensington nursing home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Students form relationships with residents through prayer, meals, and conversation.  Time is spent aiding residents in various activities, serving lunch in a quasi-restaurant style, and chatting.

*These sites are ONLY open to fellow applicants. All other sites are open to fellows and COV board sign-ups.


Anyone and everyone is invited to participate in COV. There are many different ways to be involved with COV, and so it is designed to meet the varying needs and commitment levels of those interested in participating. On the most general level, people are invited to volunteer with one of COV’s partners at any point. There is no commitment requirement, and no application to become involved. Simply visit the Campus Ministry COV Sign Up Board on the first floor lobby of Campus Ministry and add your name to the sign-up sheet for the experience you’d like to attend. This option provides flexibility in timing and type of service work, so that volunteers can find what’s most meaningful for them at the time.


COV Fellows commit to serving with the same partner organization for an entire semester, thereby making a deeper commitment to those they are serving. The Fellowship allows volunteers to build relationships over time, learning more about the individuals, experiences, and social forces that shape the communities in which they serve. It also enables Fellows to take more of a mentorship role in relation to the other COV volunteers who may be newer to the experience. In addition to weekly service, Fellows also commit to attending one Social Justice Forum per semester and a monthly community reflection on a different component of service in order to better process their experience and to learn more about the social, economic, and political factors which create a need for service in the first place.


COV Leaders are volunteers who have worked with a particular community partner for a long time, and want to guide other volunteers in becoming a part of that community as well. Leader responsibilities include both logistical and formational aspects. Leaders maintain close relationships with the community partners throughout the year, and are the primary contact with the organization on service days. In addition to heading the groups, leaders are also responsible for providing transportation to and from the service experience. However, leaders also take a more formational role as well. Leaders are responsible for providing a brief orientation to the community partner’s history and mission before every service experience, for leading volunteers through the service experience, and for facilitating reflection and helping groups process the experience on the way home from service in the van. Additionally, leaders serve as mentors and resources for their groups during the Social Justice Forum and monthly COV Community Reflections.

COV Core

The Core is comprised of a small group of dedicated participants, fellows, and leaders who work to strategically develop the future direction of the programs and partnerships of COV. The Core seeks to intentionally develop COV in light of its cornerstones of Simple Hospitality, Relational Service, Friendship & Community, and Personal Growth. To this end, the Core consists of three roles that work interdependently: Logistics, Formation, and Advocacy & Education.


In a commitment to social justice, COV hosts Social Justice Forums and advocacy opportunities for COV participants to gather as a group and learn about the justice issues and systemic factors which condition the need for service in the first place.

The goal of these activities is to create a justice-based framework through which students can process their service experience in an effort to bridge the gap between charity and solidarity. The forums are designed to raise awareness about issues which are directly tied to the work of our different community partners, and to examine the larger impact these issues have on the experience and social outcomes of the community members who face them.

The COV participants have the opportunity to build close relationships with the people they meet through service over the course of the semester, and the thrust of this social justice education is to emphasize that these personal relationships also demand of the participants larger justice commitments. In this, the hope is to redefine understandings of neighbor, collapse the globe, and shape future activists.

In line with its cornerstones, COV sees reflection as a critical component of service. Therefore, COV hosts monthly reflection opportunities facilitated by Campus Ministry Interns, each focusing on a theme relating to our understanding of service. These reflections allow us to create an important space to come together as a community to process our experiences once we’ve had time to sit with them in light of a particular dimension of service. Mother Teresa states, “so you say you love the poor … name them”.

The idea behind this is that service isn’t just about the doing of work, but about encountering people, learning their names and their stories, and dignifying them by sharing their names and stories with others … in so becoming a voice for the voiceless. Service is not just an activity, but is also a critical question of who do I become in light of these stories and what must I do to make these voices heard? And so COV believes that reflection is a critical way to begin this exploration.

Tuesday, Jan 19th
  Service Begins
Monday, Feb 8th
  Social Justice Forum, 6:30PM
Monday, Feb 22nd
   COV Reflection at 8pm, St. Rita Community Rm
Friday, Feb 26th
  Spring Break Begins, No Service

Monday, Mar 7th
  Service Resumes
Tuesday, Mar 15th
  COV Reflection at 8pm, St. Rita Community Room
Wednesday, Mar 16th
  Leader/COV Core Application for fall released, due Mar 29th
Wednesday, Mar 23rd
  Easter Break Begins, No Service
Tuesday, Mar 29th
  Service Resumes
Thursday, April 14th
  COV Reflection at 9pm, St. Rita Community Room
Thursday, April 28th
   Final Day of Service