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Students excited to serve on 5 MOVE spring break trips

03.09.17
Baltimore Service Group 2016

Nichole Ciccarelli ’18, front middle in this photo, will report out on a student-run Instagram account called knightlifevt about the coming spring break MOVE service trip to Hartford, CT, that she will be helping lead next week. This shot shows her with the group that made a service trip in January 2016 to Baltimore, MD, where they worked in conjunction with Catholic Charities.

To help address a wide range of justice issues, Saint Michael’s College student-service groups and staff leaders are departing this coming Saturday, March 11, to locations around the United States, sponsored by Edmundite Campus Ministry’s Popular MOVE program.

MOVE stands for Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts. This year’s five spring-break groups of 8 to 10 volunteers for each trip during the week of March 11-18 will be working for agencies and causes in Baltimore, MD, New York City, Hartford, CT, Appalachia in Kentucky, and Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY.

Such service trips have been a signature activity for Saint Michael’s students and staff for more than 30 years. Anna Boesch, assistant director of MOVE and organizer of this year’s trips, said many students did service earlier this year too, over winter break, January 7-14. Those groups worked in Slidell, LA; Buffalo, NY, Immokalee, FL; Big Thicket Preserve, TX, and Kanab, UT.

“We typically send 50 to 60 students total to the various sites each time we go, with a handful of faculty and staff,” said Lara Scott, director of the MOVE office. During the trips, student and staff leaders organize time in service, reflection, and thinking about how to bring the groups’ serving actions back home. Boesch said MOVE currently sends more than 125 students, faculty, and staff to 11 domestic locations, and two international sites, for service each year during school breaks.

Senior student leader Maeve Power has been part of the service trip program all four years while being on leadership for the Service Trip Committee for three, and she lead the winter-break trip to Immokalee FL this year. Power said her favorite part of the experience is the warm welcome she always has received at the service sites where she has traveled. “People are always so excited for the Saint Mike’s group because our student participants never fail to bring enthusiasm and a kind presence to the people we work with,” she said.

Following are MOVE’s capsule description of this year’s spring break service trips; students fly to some locations and drive to others, as noted:

Catholic Charities Urban Plunge, Baltimore, Maryland
March 11-18, 2017 (Flying Trip)

Our participants work at various locations in Baltimore staffing soup kitchens for people experiencing homelessness, shelters for children, and assisting social service agencies for the elderly. It is an opportunity for our students and staff to tap into solidarity with others, whose life experiences may be different from that of their own. Participants stay at the Catholic Charities Volunteer Corps organization in Baltimore. There they prepare meals and share in reflection as a community.

Covenant House, New York City, New York
March 11-18, 2017 (Driving Trip)

Serving and working for sustainable housing, the trip to New York City offers just that. Participants 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. They serve on one of the residential floors of the Covenant House, interact directly with the youth, and must be 21 or older to participate in this service trip. Participants also work with "In God's Love, We Deliver," a food service for people with AIDS. They have the opportunity to go with the organization to deliver these meals as well.

Hartford, Connecticut
March 11-18, 2017 (Driving Trip)

Participants 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. It is an opportunity for our students and staff to tap into solidarity with others, whose life experiences may be different from that of their own. The participants stay at the Holy Family Retreat House in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), Kentucky
March 11-18, 2017 (Flying Trip)

Participants have a unique opportunity to serve the needs of the rural poor in the coal mining areas of Kentucky. They spend the week working on creating sustainable homes for those in the community. They have an opportunity to engage with students and staff from different universities across the nation and are able to build relationships with the families who own the homes where they are serving. Participants live in a community of full-time Appalachian Volunteers and shared meals, prayer, and reflection is built into the daily schedule.

Hope House, Port Jefferson, Long Island
March 11-18, 2017 (Driving Trip)

Hope House is a place for the ministry and service of presence. Participants serve in 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 Human Services Center at Hope House provides a number of social services in the Suffolk County area and volunteers assist in these social programs. This is recommended for students who major in psychology, sociology or education but is open to everyone.

Boesch said all of this spring’s flying trips have nine students and one staff person. Nine students and a staffer are driving to Hartford, seven students and one staff to Covenant House in New York City, and seven students with one staff to Long Island.

Additionally, Allison Cleary of the College’s journalism faculty regularly organizes and leads international service trips for MOVE, and this spring break, also March 11-18, will be accompanying 15 students to the Dominican Republic. Here’s the MOVE description of that trip: “With an emphasis on sustaining the rural way of life for farming families in the southwestern region of San Jose de Ocoa, students spend a week building a home, school or other important project and connecting with families in a small village.”

MOVE also sponsors summer service trips, and the first leaves right after Commencement. Here’s that description:

Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota
May 20-27, 2017 (Flying Trip)

Working in solidarity for Native American rights, participants work with Lakota Native American reservation in La Plant, South Dakota through the non-profit organization Simply Smiles. The mission of this week is to improve the lives of impoverished children in the community. Participants engage in both hands on construction work as well as programming for the youth summer camp. This is a community surrounded by economic and social strife with a suicide rate three times the national average. This trip offers additional preparation prior to departure due to the specific needs of the service.

Other summer trips

Also this year, partly in celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Edmundites, nine students and four staff will make a service trip to Selma, AL, where the Edmundites long have had a ministry among the impoverished, largely African American community.

Boesch said other trips planned for summer of 2017 are a new trip to Guatemala, for which details are still coming together; and an all-staff trip led by Catherine Welch of the Student Life office to the Best Friends Animal Shelter in Utah. Those will be later in the summer than the Selma trip, she said, adding that MOVE leaders are working with the Staff Welfare Committee to work on more future service opportunities at a variety of locations for faculty and staff

Winter break service destinations

Here are descriptions of where students served over this year’s winter break in January 2017, including, at the top, the social issues that the trip aimed to address:

Homelessness, Poverty and Food Security
Habitat for Humanity, East St. Tammany, Slidell, Louisiana
January 7-14, 2017 (Flying Trip)

Our participants focus on housing security, mentoring, and food security while serving in Slidell, Louisiana. They spend much of the week working with Habitat for Humanity in housing construction, Big Brother Big Sister mentoring children, and at New Orleans Mission serving and sharing meals with the poor and marginalized of the city.

Child Poverty, Housing Security, and Educational Justice
Catholic Central School, Buffalo, New York
January 7-14, 2017
(Flying Trip)

Interested in educational justice? Participants work in the middle school program at Catholic Central School, modeled after the Jesuit-based Nativity Network, providing private education for students who cannot afford it otherwise. They serve in 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.

Immokalee Friendship House & Habitat for Humanity, Immokalee, Florida
January 7-14, 2017 (Flying Trip)

During the day, participants work with the local Habitat for Humanity building homes for the migrant workers in the community. In the afternoon, the group helps out at an after-school program at a local school operated by the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, working with children of migrant farm workers. In the evenings, participants stay in a Habitat home, cook and share meals together, and spend time in reflection.

Environmental Justice
Big Thicket Preserve, Texas
January 7-14, 2017 (Flying Trip)

If you’re passionate about taking care of the environment, this is your trip. Throughout the week, participants 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 participants serve in the Beaumont community at the South Eastern Texas Foodbank and a local organization serving meals on wheels to senior citizens.

Animal Rights
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah
January 7-14, 2017 (Flying Trip)

Hearts that scream for animal rights, this is a great trip for you. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is home to about 1,500 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, goats, birds and other rescued animals, and is the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for homeless animals. Participants help care for the animals and help prepare them for "forever homes" by walking dogs, socializing animals, cleaning projects, etc.

MOVE service history

Saint Michael's College Service Trips are one of the first Alternative Break Programs offered 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 MOVE continues to work to this day) to do service work over Spring Break. According to the MOVE website, “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 have since then expanded to thirteen service sites across the country, and world, offering a variety of opportunities to engage in service and stand for justice.”

“MOVE’s Mission continues to expand the concept of community service to embrace social justice; this is the heart of our service trips. These trips cover a wide variety of different justice issues, as we strive to engage in justice through service. It is our opportunity to honor the life and dignity of others, understand a greater call to our community, advocate for those living in poverty, and begin living in solidarity with others whose life experiences may be different from ours,” the site states. 

MOVE currently works with organizations who work for the following justice issues: Homelessness, Child Poverty and Education, Animal Rights, Environmental Justice, Migrant Farm Work, AIDs Rights, Rural poverty, Urban Poverty, and Native American Rights.

Maeve Power says the service trip program “was something I knew I wanted to be involved in when I first visited Saint Mike’s in 2013 -- Not only has the service I have participated in been extremely influential in my own personal life, exposing me to a diverse array of social justice issues in the United States from rural poverty to migrant farmworker abuse, but it has also informed my own goals of pursuing a career that allows me to continue to participate in service in an even more deeper way.

She said that as a leader and committee member, “I have come to better understand who I am and what my skills are, while always working to improve my leadership to make the service trip experience that much more meaningful for my always inspiring and passionate participants … The legacy of MOVE’s Service Trip Program all over the country is one that I am so proud and lucky to be a part of!”

Brianna Jones ’17, another student leader and service-trip veteran since her first year at Saint Michael’s, added, “MOVE service trips have been an extremely important part of my college career. They have allowed me to grow as a member of the global community and be a participatory member of communities that are different from my own!”

For more information about the Saint Michael's College participant program dealing with domestic service, feel free to contact Anna Boesch at aboesch@smcvt.edu or call at 802.654.2674

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