Physical therapy online: Rob Vining uses technology to serve clients
by Mark Wangrin
Makes community service a goal
It was almost Valentine’s Day 2016 and Gabe Schrade felt lonely. He saw others buying flowers, candy, and cards for their sweethearts, but it was just him in his car that cool February night unless you count his self-pity riding shotgun.
Then he passed the San Marcos Rehabilitation Center and that sadness gave way to shame.
"It hit me — the best way to feel better is to do something good for someone else," the Bobcat football team’s senior tight end says. "So I thought, you dance on Valentine’s Day. And I’m sure there are people in this rehabilitation center who have not only loved but lost the people that they do love."
So Schrade called on several of his teammates to join him in dressing up, bringing roses, and dancing with the residents of the Rehabilitation Center to a soundtrack of songs dating back to the 1950s, including "The Twist."
"There were women who hadn’t lost a step," Schrade says. "There were some tears too. It was a blast."
And that’s how this student from Deland, Florida, veered onto the road toward community service, which culminated last fall with his nomination to the American Football Coaches Association 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The honor recognizes student-athletes who embody the true spirit of teamwork and selflessness by donating their limited free time to helping and serving others.
Head Football Coach Everett Withers came to Texas State in January 2016 vowing to change the culture of the program, building a team that was made up of good, hardworking citizens, on and off the field. One such person was Schrade, who was then entering his junior season.
"Gabe’s a guy who wanted to have success, a guy who wanted to be in a program that taught how to do things the right way," Withers says. "He’s a big ambassador on campus for Texas State. He’s done a lot of good things. He’s what you want in a student-athlete."
"Gabe’s a guy who wanted to have success, a guy who wanted to be in a program that taught how to do things the right way. He’s a big ambassador on campus for Texas State. He’s done a lot of good things. He’s what you want in a student-athlete."
– Coach Everett Withers
Schrade’s community service at Texas State goes beyond organizing dances for seniors. His efforts include:
- Cleaning the grounds of Goodnight Elementary School.
- Organizing a group of Fellowship of Christian Athletes members to take over the duties for a janitor at Strahan Coliseum so the man could have a night off to spend with his family.
- Helping create and push legislation to address on-campus robberies and sexual assaults while serving as a Texas State student senator.
- Planting native foliage on the banks of the San Marcos River near Sewell Park to replace what washed away by flooding in late May 2015.
The project connected the Bobcat football team with Serve San Marcos, a community service volunteer program led by First United Methodist Church of San Marcos. The Rev. Todd Salmi, now pastor of the United Campus Ministry of Texas State, helmed the project as pastor at First United.
"The river bank restoration was the beginning of my work with the football team, but I’ve seen Gabe at many places working throughout the community," Salmi says. "Working at the food bank, at local elementary schools, with local housing authority. Gabe is such a good student leader, both in his encouragement and the work he exemplifies."
Schrade’s current project is a partnership with Swipe Out Hunger, a national group that started in 2009 at UCLA, to take unused meal card swipes — hence the name — and translate them to money to feed the hungry in San Marcos. The effort partners with School Fuel, a nonprofit that sends students home with food for the weekend. In the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District, some 48 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
The son of two church pastors, Schrade credits his upbringing with shaping his social consciousness. "I’ve seen how much good they’ve been able to do," Schrade says of his parents, Mark and Delta. "If you want to change the world, if you change one person, do one good thing, you’ve changed part of the world right there. I think that I learned that from them."
Schrade’s mantra — learn, grow, give — comes from his own reverse-engineered approach to community service. The end result is giving, he decided, but one has to learn how and what to give and then grow the process before the giving. "You get that organic material and you cultivate it, and grow something that is of value to others," he says. "That’s where that comes from, and I try to filter everything I do through those three." ✪