Loyola’s Ben Hyde Rallies Students to Corporal Works of Mercy

Loyola senior Ben Hyde serves as the student coordinator for the Loyola Student Government Association’s (SGA) Garden Park Nursing Home community outreach. Three years ago, a local nursing home contacted Loyola’s SGA about their need for student volunteers to come out once a week to help residents learn how to use iPads and give technology assistance. Eager to help, Hyde, along with other students, began going as volunteer workers. The nursing home coordinated the visits and activities in the beginning, but asked to have a student coordinator after the first year. Hyde readily accepted this responsibility.

As part of his work as coordinator, he schedules student volunteers and plans the programs for the residents each week. Technology learning time, different arts and crafts activities, and time for visiting with the residents are all included in each week’s program. Additionally, Hyde plans a theme for each week’s activities, and his brother Max Hyde comes on each visit to play the violin for the residents.  The Garden Park residents have grown so close to the Loyola student group, that they painted a “welcome back” banner for students at their first visit of this school year in August.

In order to keep the program alive after he graduates this year, Ben is working with new, younger student coordinators to make the transition seamless. What originally began as a few Loyola students visiting an assisted living facility, has grown into a weekly event everyone, both Garden Park residents and Loyola students, looks forward to. Through Hyde’s hard work and dedication, the Garden Park initiative was presented with Louisiana Nursing Home Association’s Group Volunteer Award.

In addition to his work with Garden Park residents, Hyde also serves as one of the chairmen for F.Ai.T.H. – Flyers Aiding the Hungry. F.Ai.T.H. is an organization started by a Loyola student over 25 years ago that gives food baskets and Christmas gifts to families in need in our surrounding community.  For two years as a F.Ai.T.H. member, and last year as a F.Ai.T.H. officer, Ben worked so tirelessly that he was chosen to be one of four chairmen for this year’s event. As a F.Ai.T.H. chair, Ben is responsible for working with area businesses to sponsor food baskets, organizing canned food drives for students, speaking to parent and alumni groups, working with local nonprofits to identify those in need and organizing the actual event day.  On F.Ai.T.H. day, laundry baskets are filled with various canned goods, ham, bread, rice and other food staples, and Christmas gifts are organized, so that when community members come, they can receive their basket and gift.  In previous years, chairs have set it up to give away 600-700 baskets. Last year’s chairmen were able to give away 900 baskets in one afternoon; this year Ben and his co-chairs have a goal of 1,200 baskets!

Hyde says, “I do it because it’s important for me to put my faith into action. There is importance in selfless actions, and these projects give so many people a chance to be a part of serving others.  As people contribute as they are able, with a single canned good or money for F.Ai.T.H. or in spending time with the residents at Garden Park, they are amazed at what they are part of accomplishing.  Small things really can change people’s lives.”

Because of his humility and dedication to leading and serving others, Hyde is Loyola’s nominee for the NCEA Proclaim Youth Virtues, Valor, and Vision Award, a national award that formally recognizes extraordinary young people in Catholic schools who through their selfless service, determination, innovation and ideals are changing the world.   •

by Lisa Cooper

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