O’Dowd and Oakland Tech Students Start New Service Organization

The Oakland Student Service Organization’s founders discuss its creation, goals, and values.


Ruby Sexton, Contributor

On January 17th, 2022, the Oakland Student Service Organization launched its first service meet-up. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, over 50 teenagers recruited by the Organization, Higher Ground After School Program, a DJ, and the Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf, banded together to sweep East Oakland streets clear of litter and garbage.

In early December 2021, Oakland Tech students Matteo Salvadei, Ben Stone, and Bishop O’Dowd junior David Gibbs took it upon themselves to start a service project. As the three entrepreneurial students began to understand the adversities of Oakland residents, they decided it was time to take action. In an interview with David Gibbs, he shined light on his main inspiration for starting the organization. He claimed, “We really just want to give back…my whole life I’ve been in Oakland. That’s my home. To help out in any way possible, with the pollution, homelessness, we really want to do anything we can to help, and that’s pretty much what the organization’s about.” Matteo and David expressed the importance of giving back to their community, whether it be helping with the homeless crisis, pollution, or poverty in Oakland.

While describing the organization’s events, David mentioned that they are a great way for students all over Oakland to meet their service hour requirements. David described the experience as a “win-win situation for O’Dowd students,” as a handful of O’Dowd students are struggling to find ways to complete their service hours throughout the pandemic. He hopes that O’Dowd students will take advantage of the volunteer opportunities to complete their hours, and give back to their community!

David says, “we want to do all and everything possible,” and it’s beginning to seem like nothing is beyond their reach. The Oakland Student Service Organization began as a club, but Matteo and David have been working their way up to becoming a student-led nonprofit organization. David said that becoming a non-profit has been an aspiration from the beginning, and after the success at their last event, they are expecting to become an official non-profit organization in the near future.

In anticipation of the event, the Oakland Student Service Organization spread the word about the events through social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. The efforts were fruitful, as many high school students and adults alike attended. David says, “There was such a pressure lifted off my chest once we were actually in the streets and I saw everyone picking up trash.” In addition to a welcoming environment, inspirational speakers and service groups also joined in the clean-up. The morning began with a few words of encouragement from Mayor Libby Schaaf and leaders of the Higher Ground After School Program. They emphasized the importance of service and of community involvement in Oakland. I personally left feeling empowered, inspired, and successful members of the Oakland community.

The best part of the Oakland Student Service Organization’s vision is that you can be a part of it too! In the interview, David made it clear that everyone willing to lend a helping hand is encouraged to join. There are no requirements, other than bringing yourself and a positive attitude. According to David, there are a ton of next steps and exciting events in the works. Currently, some of their goals are “officially becoming a non-profit, and the main objective is to have an event once a month. We also want to have intermediary things like food drives around school campuses, so that we stay connected in between events. You’ll always see Oakland Student Service around, that’s the main goal.” The food drives are a great way to contribute to the community, especially if you cannot make it to monthly events.

In order to stay up-to-date on the organization, follow their social media platforms. Their official Instagram page is @oaklandstudentservice. Use this linktree to get in contact with OSS or sign up for the next event: https://linktr.ee/oaklandstudentservice