One in Spirit and Service: SLU Family Gives 400 Hours to 200-Years-in-One Challenge
Some families have a weekly movie night. Others play board games together or have a shared hobby. SLU alums Peter and Marsha Maller and their children volunteer, bonding over a shared vision of service that uses each person’s talents to help make the world a better place.
Peter (Parks ‘88) and Marsha (Parks ‘89), parents to Sarah and Rachel, are both aerospace engineers. Sarah, a freshman Medical Scholar at Saint Louis University, studies neuroscience, has been active on the council of SLU’s public health fair and teaches local grade school students how to play new instruments. Rachel, a freshman in high school, leads religious retreats in her high school and helps teach kindergarteners how to read. Together, the family has contributed nearly 400 hours to SLU’s 200-Years-in-One service challenge, the goal of which is to reach 1.75 million service hours — two centuries worth — as a community in celebration of SLU’s bicentennial.
When hours are logged for the challenge via Saint Louis University’s 200 In One app, available on Google Play and in the Apple App Store, or at slu.edu/200years, hours tick up on an interactive clock at the corner of Grand and Lindell boulevards.
When the Mallers go to Mass together at St. Francis Xavier College Church, they’re inspired to see the physical clock, which they see as a reminder, a celebration of service, an invitation, and a beacon of hope. The clock is a source of pride, something that shows the actual impact of their service hours is part of a larger cycle of giving.
“The reason I do service is to know that I am making small changes in someone’s life that could affect them forever,” Sarah said. “As one person, I can affect maybe ten people — which is really good. But when you realize ‘I’ve got 100 other people doing this right next to me,’ it makes it seem bigger. It adds up.”
This is humanity. We’re not born to hate people, we’re born to help peopleSarah Maller
Marsha, too, enjoys watching the hours on the clock tick up. “Seeing the hours, months and years accumulate on the clock clearly demonstrates the humble service that is the backbone of the SLU family,” she said.
Throughout their lives, the Mallers have prioritized service, believing that they have been blessed with gifts and talents that they should share with others.
Peter volunteers with Wings of Hope to provide medical flights to individuals in need.
“It’s been a good feeling for me to know that I have just helped somebody, and I hope it makes [my daughters] find things that will be meaningful as well,” he said.
Marsha volunteers with her parish, holding positions on the finance council and the pastoral council as well as chaperoning school dances for her daughters.
“Volunteering helps me appreciate all that I have been given and understand that life has challenges,” she said. “Peter and I have led by example. We believe that we are here to use the talents that God has given us.”
The family sees SLU’s service clock as a challenge to people who might not yet be giving back. Sarah explained that the clock reminds her and her friends that SLU students do service, SLU families do service, and other people in the community also do service. It’s easy if done right and something that feels natural, she said.
“This is humanity. We’re not born to hate people, we’re born to help people,” she said.
The Mallers challenge others in their community to get involved in service in any way they can.
Their advice: Find something you love doing, something you’re good at, and maybe something not everyone else can do. Then go do it — with friends, with strangers, or by yourself. Make volunteering your family tradition and leave your legacy in a way that changes the world.
“We all have gifts to give,” said Peter. “If we can be less selfish and more thoughtful, even if it’s in small ways, we realize there’s more than just ourselves, and it can bring communities together.”