January 06, 2017
Communications and Marketing
Welcoming the new year in service, 144 Saint Anselm College students will embark on Service & Solidarity Missions trips January 7-14, to locations ranging from Phoenix, Ariz., to Hartford, Conn. These 10 student-led groups will serve communities by assisting with home repair and construction, homeless hospitality, refugee resettlement, and school assistance.
This year (which marks the 27th anniversary of the program), two trips were added to the Winter Break Alternative (WBA) roster of mission trips, due to record interest and an overwhelming applicant pool. In addition to traveling to the Dominican Republic, Baltimore, Md., Phoenix, Ariz., New Orleans, La., Virginia, Manchester, N.H., Salem, W. Va., and Washington, D.C., students will also be serving in Baton Rouge, La., and Hartford, Conn. Two college faculty members, Professor Laurie Bennett from the Department of Nursing and Professor Dina Frutos-Bencze from the Department of Economics and Business, will join the students at Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos in the Dominican Republican.
"Being socially aware and just, are at the core of who we are as a Catholic college," says director of Campus Ministry Susan Gabert. "These trips help with the formation of our students and opens their eyes to how others live. This gives them the opportunity to explore their spirituality, meaning of life, and how they interact with others."
"The opportunity to represent Saint Anselm College while providing assistance to communities at home and abroad is a tremendous experience for students," says senior Joseph E. Smith '17, who is leading a group to Community Collaborations, a disaster relief organization in Baton Rouge, La.
"Being from a middle class family from central Massachusetts, I grew up fairly sheltered from the issues that face our country and our world," Smith says. "One of the most important things the Service & Solidarity program has given me is a desire to continue educating myself. I have found a greater importance in being aware."
Solidarity serves two parts in its mission: it emphasizes that all of the groups are in service together. It also reminds participants that each act of service is done at the same level of the community being served, where the human dignity of each person is placed above all else.
For sophomore nursing student Cassidy Diaz, lessons learned on WBA align with what she learned in the classroom: "At Saint Anselm, classes such as Conversatio are geared to teach students compassion, demonstrate the importance of hard work, and encourage them to use their faith to seek understanding."
"These trips put those lessons into practice," Diaz says. "We practice compassion with communities that are less fortunate than us; we work hard to give these communities anything we can to help; and what I find to be most important is that they test our faith and allow us to grow stronger."
Cullen Clougherty, a sophomore environmental studies and politics double major, agrees. Clougherty will lead the trip to New Orleans, where he, his co-leader, and 12 participants will work with the Saint Bernard Project to provide home repair and school assistance. He decided to lead, because of his Spring Break Alternative (SBA) service in Detroit, M.I. in 2016.
"I questioned who I was and the impact I wanted to leave on this Earth when I'm gone," says Clougherty. "Asking these questions helped me begin to understand my true goals and dreams, which all stemmed from working in Detroit. The work done there had such a profound effect on me that during my week off from work that summer, I flew to Detroit and continued the work I had started during spring break."
Students will return to campus on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Story by Jasmine Blais '17 and Margaret Lynch '17
Blais is co-leading the trip to Phoenix, Ariz., and Lynch is co-leading the trip to Baton Rouge, La.