We are a true leader in service. Saint Michael's Extended Service Program is one of the first Alternative Break options to be offered in college in the United States. Edmundite Father Steve Hornat created the program in 1986 while working in the Office of Campus Ministry. That first year, Fr. Steve traveled with five students to New York City's Covenant House (with whom we continue to work to this day)to do service work over Spring Break. This experience brought with it the opportunity to see life outside what is known and what is comfortable: to sit with others; to actively work beside another; to learn, to witness, and to participate.
We currently send more than 125 students, faculty, and staff to 11 domestic locations, and two international sites, for service each year during school breaks.
Habitat for Humanity, East St. Tammany, Slidell, Louisiana
Volunteers will spend much of the week working with Habitat for Humanity in Slidell, a suburb 30 minutes north of New Orleans . Habitat work entails all levels of house building and no experience with carpentry is needed. Volunteers will also be immersed in the local community through two additional service sites: Camelia Gardens, a residential home for elders and New Orleans Mission, serving the poor and marginalized of the city.
Catholic Central School, Buffalo, New York
Volunteers work in the middle school program at Catholic Central School, which is modeled after the Jesuit-based Nativity Network.Catholic Central exists for students who cannot afford a private education, and offers an extended day, week and year to keep young people focused on education and off the streets.Volunteers work with the St. Monica Scholars Program for Young Women and the St. Augustine Program for Young Men, and have an opportunity to work with a diverse group of students (largely African-American and African refugees, immigrants and new Americans) during the school day and in the after school program. This site is recommended for Secondary Education majors.
Catholic Charities Urban Plunge, Baltimore, Maryland
Volunteers will work at various locations in Baltimore staffing soup kitchens for people that are homeless, shelters for children, and assisting social service agencies for the aged. In addition, we will learn about the everyday experience of the homeless by working in their environment. Volunteers will stay at the Catholic Charities Volunteer Corps organization in Baltimore. There they will prepare meals and share in reflection as a community.
Hope House, Port Jefferson, Long Island
Hope House is both a community residence for youth between the ages of 16-21 and a Human Services Center. Hope House is a place where youth having difficulties with drug or alcohol abuse, emotional problems or socializing problems can come for help and support. The community residence accommodates 20 teenage boys. During their stay, residents are offered a family atmosphere and counseling services. The Human Services Center at Hope House provides a number of social services in the Suffolk County area and volunteers assist in these social programs. Volunteers also assist at a shelter for people that are homeless. This is recommended for students who major in psychology, sociology or education but is open to everyone.
Covenant House, New York City, New York
Volunteers work and stay in one of the residences owned by Covenant House, which has a primary focus of housing individuals between the ages of 16 and 21. Volunteers serve on one of the residential floors of the Covenant House, and interact directly with the youth, and must therefore be 21 or older to participate in this service trip. Volunteers also work with "In God's Love, We Deliver," a food service for people with AIDS, and with the Sisters of Mercy at Mercy Center, which provides an after-school program for children in the Bronx.
Volunteers spend a majority of their time with one of the three shelters and soup kitchens: St. Elizabeth's House, Immaculate Conception Emergency Shelter, and House of Bread. They also work with the after-school program at the Village for Families and Children, Inc. The volunteers stay at the Holy Family Retreat House in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Big Thicket Preserve, Texas
Big Thicket National Preserve was established to protect the remnant swamps, eastern forests, central plains, and southwest deserts of Texas. Throughout the week, volunteers will assist with trail maintenance in the preserve including: clearing brush and small stumps to make the trails more accessible, clearing away species that are endangering the native plant species, and controlled burning to promote the growth of native species. Additionally, one day of the week volunteers will serve in the Beaumont community at the SouthEastern Texas Foodbank and a local organization serving meals on wheels to senior citizens.
Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), Kentucky
Participants have a unique opportunity to serve the needs of the rural poor in the coal mining areas of Kentucky. The week is spent on home-repair and painting projects, but experience is not necessary. Volunteers live in a community of full-time Appalachian volunteers and shared meals, prayer and reflection are built into the daily schedule.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located in Kanab, Utah is home to about 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, goats, birds and other rescued animals. Best Friends is the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for homeless animals, and it provides adoption, spay/neuter, and educational programs around the world. Best Friends relies on volunteers from across the country (and the world!) to help care for the animals and help prepare them for "forever homes". Volunteers help with a variety of tasks throughout the week (walking dogs, socializing with cats, rabbits, pigs, birds and horses, cleaning projects, etc.).
Immokalee Friendship House & Habitat for Humanity, Immokalee, Florida
During the day, volunteers will work with the local Habitat for Humanity. No carpentry or building experience is necessary. In the afternoon, the group will help out at an after school program at a local school operated by the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. This school serves the children of migrant farm workers. In the evenings, volunteers will spend time at the Immokalee Friendship House working with homeless men, women, children and migrant farm workers. We will serve dinner, sit down and share the meal with the residents, and spend time getting to know the community.
Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota
Volunteers will live and work in a Lakota Native American reservation in La Plant, South Dakota. Working with the non-profit organization Simply Smiles to improve the lives of impoverished children, volunteer efforts will include both hands on construction work as well as programming for the youth summer camp. The size of the reservation is comparable to the state of Connecticut but with a population of only 9,000 people. This is a community surrounded by economic and social strife with a suicide approximately every two weeks, three times the national average. Due to the emotional and physical demands of this trip, there will be additional preparation prior to the trip's departure.
For more information about the Saint Michael's College volunteer program dealing with domestic service, feel free to contact Jenna Burkhardt '14.
Volunteers work with the poorest of the poor in Kolkata, India, where millions are homeless, living in train stations or on the streets, and many more are living below the poverty line. Much of the three weeks will be spent volunteering for daily shifts at Mother Teresa's homes, which include orphanages for malnourished children and severely handicapped children, and homes for the destitute and dying of Kolkata. Volunteers also fundraise, work on projects for, and visit non-profit and charitable organizations that are providing homes, education, and sustainability for children taken out of the red-light district in Kolkata, a place where most young girls turn to prostitution merely to survive.
Volunteers participate in the work of the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph, a group of religious sisters who minister to children, as well as those who are elderly, sick and impoverished in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic. Volunteers also travel to a mountain village outside of Ocoa to live in community and work alongside the grassroots organization Asociacion para el Desarollo de San Jose de Ocoa (Association for the Development of San Jose de Ocoa). ADESJO promotes economic, social and cultural development among the people of Ocoa and the surrounding areas.
For more information about the Saint Michael's College volunteer program dealing with international service, feel free to contact Allison Cleary.