MOVE service trips are at the heart of Saint Michael’s

March 19, 2024
Cat Cutillo
Social Media and Community Content Specialist

Each academic year dozens of students participate in service trips all over the country through Saint Michael’s community service organization, MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts). For the 2023-24 academic year, Saint Michael’s offered six different week-long domestic trips. Each trip typically has room for six to 10 people. In January, MOVE visited Immokalee, Florida, Buffalo, New York, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Over the March spring break, a group traveled to Hartford, Connecticut. This May, two groups will travel to Benson, Vermont, and Selma, Alabama. In past years, groups have also visited Long Island. 

The deadline to apply to participate in a MOVE service trip is mid-September. Students of all ages are welcome and will be notified by the end of October with selection information. Students and employees can go on a trip every year. Vicky Castillo, Assistant Director of MOVE, said in the three years she’s been heading the program, no one has been turned down, although people don’t always get their first choice of location. 

Benson, VT, 2023. (Back left to right) Kurt Dirmaier ’23, Sully Miele (staff leader), Catrina Gallagher ’26, Lara Scott (staff leader), Jeremy Ceballos (student leader), Tulasha Pradhan ’25

The application includes some short answers and demographic information. You don’t have to have done service with MOVE to go on a service trip. For many students, this is their first interaction with MOVE. The service trip committee is made up of MOVE core team leaders who help prepare for the trips and make placements. In addition, one core team leader and one faculty or staff member will also attend each trip alongside the students. The deadline for faculty and staff to apply to go on a service trip is also September. For anyone that has been employed at Saint Michael’s for at least one year, they can apply their HR benefit and receive 40 hours of paid volunteer time in order to partake in the service trip.  

“Through this shared experience of service and through daily reflections, the groups really get to know each other, and they bond very quickly,” Castillo said. “By the end of the service trips, they’re family.”  

Castillo said financial assistance is also available. There are two-tiers of cost. Driving trips cost $200 for the entire week and flying trip cost $395 for the entire week, which covers all needs including transportation, food, and lodging. MOVE has not increased their prices in the past decade. 

“They have a lot to think about when they come back to St. Mike’s and how they can translate what they’ve learned there with each other back to our own community,” Castillo said.  


Immokalee, Florida

Saint Michael’s students worked with Habitat for Humanity and a bilingual elementary school when they visited Immokalee, Florida, in January. They visited the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to learn more about farm worker rights in the area. 

“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has ties with Migrant Justice up here so there’s that similarity in organizations and service opportunities,” Castillo said. 

Kathleen Dean ’26 is an English major and a double minor in French and Philosophy. Dean said she chose to travel with Saint Michael’s to Florida because she wanted to propel herself out of her comfort zone. 

“I feel most human and most alive when I am with other people,” Dean said. “I will always be taken back to the memory of sitting on a tiny plastic chair, three second graders surrounding me, pulling on my hair and offering me animal crackers.” 

(Left to right) Michelle Barnett (staff leader), Kathleen Dean ’26, Anifa Selemani ’27, Shannah Weller ’25, Declan Heney ’27, Henry Ferrari ’24, Marcel Rainville, Frank Loveland ’24 (student leader), Lindsay Skinner ’24; in front of RCMA (Redlands Christian Migrant Association) School sign in Florida

Buffalo, New York 


In January, Saint Michael’s went to Buffalo, New York, and worked with St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, an organization that serves that homeless population and those living in poverty. Saint Michael’s students worked in the soup kitchen to prepare and help give out meals. 

In past years, Saint Michael’s partnered with a private co-ed middle school within the Jesuit NativityMiguel network. The Saint Michael’s visitors worked in student classrooms and after-school programming.  

Staffer George Goldsworthy ’93, who manages Saint Michael’s printing and mailing services, and has worked at the college for three decades, has participated in MOVE service trips for the past three years “as a way to connect with Saint Michael’s students” he would not encounter otherwise. This year, he traveled with MOVE to Buffalo. 

“Experiencing daily urban poverty as we served 1,000 meals twice daily was eye-opening. I have been sheltered from seeing poverty on a vast scale,” Goldsworthy said. 

Theresa Carbonneau ’26 is a double major in Elementary Education and Equity Studies and was the MOVE core team leader during the Buffalo service trip this year. Carbonneau said she was drawn to the school-focused setting.   

“I enjoyed it so much because you think about how many people will be eating these meals and how many people will not go hungry tonight because of the organization we volunteered at,” Carbonneau said. 

She said the trip helped her put herself in someone else’s shoes. 

“After listening to so many of the clients’ stories, it really opened my eyes,” Carbonneau said. “It taught me that anyone could be in that position.” 

Carbonneau said one of the best takeaways was the friendships she created with other Saint Michael’s students and staff who went on the trip and the opportunity to help others.  

She said, “At the end of the day, we help one another out because others have been there for us when we needed help.” 

Buffalo, NY, January 2024. George Goldsworthy and Nate Hoadley ’25 at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy preparing meals.

New Orleans, Louisiana 


In January, another group from Saint Michael’s visited New Orleans and worked with Habitat for Humanity to help paint houses and build a porch. They also worked with the New Orleans Mission, a faith-based organization that serves the homeless population through soup kitchens and medical services from three different locations. The organization offers long-term retreat centers as well to help treat substance abuse and prepare people for the job force. Saint Michael’s volunteered at all three campuses.  

This year, Castillo went on the trip to New Orleans and got to experience the city for the first time. 

“I was struck by the openness of everyone that we met there,” Castillo said. “They were very open to sharing their stories with us. And the strength and conviction of their faith was also something that I hadn’t experienced in that way before. It was very eye-opening that they experienced a faith transformation and how it’s impacted their life. To hear them speak in that way was really moving, each and every time.”

New Orleans, 2024. (Back front left to right) Catrina Gallagher ’26, Carson O’Neil (staff leader), Leeroy New Orleans Mission (NOM) staff member, Vicky Castillo (staff leader), Jarrett Sweet ’25, Lauren Welch ’25, Emma Gooley ’23 (student leader), Callie Boisvert ’27, Duwap NOM staff member, Izzy Stack ’25, Dennis NOM staff member, Sergei NOM staff member

Hartford, Connecticut 


During the March spring break, a group from Saint Michael’s visited Hartford, Connecticut. The group worked with four service organization, which is the highest number of all the service trips. Three of the organizations were soup kitchens with additional programming to support those experiencing homelessness. They also worked with a middle school to help facilitate activities for kids in an after-school program.  

Last year, Castillo went on the Hartford service trip, a place she’d grown up 30 minutes from. Although she knew the location well, she said it felt like a new experience. 

“It’s a whole different side when you’re able to spend your time and your resources to help support the community in that way,” Castillo said.

Hartford, CT, March 2023. (Back left to right) Theresa Carbonneau ’25, Kylee Legg ’25, Andrea Johnson House of Bread Head Chef, Emily Huebel ’26, Lauren Best ’24 (student leader), Eliza Goldsworthy ’26, Vicky Castillo (staff leader)

Benson, Vermont 


After the academic year finishes in May, a group from Saint Michael’s will visit Benson, Vermont, to partner with Mercy Ecospirituality Center which is run by the Sisters of Mercy. They have a homestead retreat center in Benson. The group stays on the property and helps volunteer with the small garden, farm, farm animals and trails. A lot of the service is working on the land. They also volunteer at a neighboring farm. Last year, the group planted more than 1,000 onion seedlings. 

“That trip also offers them the opportunity to connect to the environment through spirituality,” Castillo said. 

Benson, VT, May 2023. Group in a green house on Foggy Meadow Farm

Selma, Alabama 


Saint Michael’s travels to Selma, Alabama, after the academic year ends each May to work with the Edmundite Southern Missions. They work with all facets of the community from youth to elderly. They serve youth at the recreation center. They serve food at the Bosco Nutrition Center. 

“Another great thing about the Selma trip is they get to explore and learn more deeply about civil rights movement and the role that the Edmundites had during that time period,” Castillo said. “They learn about racism within the U.S., how it’s still prevalent, and what those long-term effects are for the community of Selma. It’s a really rich trip that they get to embark on there.” 

Selma, AL, May 2023. (Back left to right) Ryan Hay (staff leader), Edmundite Missions staff member, Makayla Blake ’24 (student leader), Felicia Fil ’24, Sarah Childs (staff leader), Kristyn Carrozzo ’23, Amos Schramm ’24, Emilie Webster ’23

Click here to learn more about MOVE service trips at Saint Michael’s College. 

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