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Service & Solidarity MissionsService & Solidarity Missions are student-led service trips overseen by Campus Ministry.

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Students Help Communities in Need During Break

January 03, 2014

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

This winter break, 109 Saint Anselm students (including 14 trip leaders) and two faculty members will travel to seven cities across the United States to serve communities in need through the college's Service & Solidarity Mission Program.

Leaving on Saturday, Jan. 4, the students will spend a week helping various organizations in Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. See the full list on the Service & Solidarity blog.

"Its important that we not only help while we are there, but that we do our best to hear their stories and feel their struggles in solidarity so that we can fight for justice long after our week there is over," said Joycelin Raho, Assistant Director of Campus Ministry.

Depending on the organization, the groups work in soup kitchens, shelters, and schools and they build homes, work with children and adults suffering from hunger, homelessness, poverty as well as health and educational disparities.

"The students go on these trips with an incredible amount of enthusiasm and generosity. They are amazing. Often the biggest challenge they face are simply wanting to do more," said Raho.

For the first time, this year's Winter Break Alternative includes working with Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity in Vineland, New Jersey. There the students work on new home interiors, and help with preparations to open the new Re-Store thrift shop including organizing stock, touching up paint. Senior psychology major Vivian Fitzgerald is one of the two students leading the trip to Vineland. She previously worked with Habitat for Humanity during a Service and Solidarity trip to New Orleans and is looking forward to her participants volunteering with Habitat for the first time. "What I think makes this trip so special is that we will be helping with a tragedy that hits close to home with a lot of our community," says Fitzgerald referring to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

"A home is something very personal and the fact that we will be helping people reclaim a home warms my heart," she says.

Also this year's program includes a discipline-centered trip for nursing students. The group's reflections and dialogue will be through the lens of nursing. Faculty members Destiny Brady and Antonia Nelson join the group of 10 nursing-students volunteering at Wellspring Urban Service Camp in Philadelphia, Penn., through Old First Reformed United Church of Christ. They serve meals at a men's shelter, run workshops for at-risk youth and parents, and conduct educational hygiene workshops with children at a crisis nursery.

This is the 24th year the Office of Campus Ministry at Saint Anselm College has sent students around the country to volunteer.

Raho hopes the experience opens students' eyes and hearts to those in need. "We hope students will return from their trip both aware and inspired to use their gifts to continue to make a change in the world," she said.

Fitzgerald speaks from experience in saying, "I think the connections you make on these trips are what really stick with you. They remind you of all the good that is still in the world and gives you hope that things can get better." 

Updates from the various locations will be posted throughout the week. Follow the trips on the Service & Solidarity blog  and on Twitter #SACWBA.