Mid-Week Updates

All ten groups have checked in with mid-week updates. Spirits are high, and groups report an outstanding week so far. Updates and photos included!

Building Affordable Housing – Winston-Salem, NC: 

Is having a great week at Forsyth Habitat for Humanity. After checking in with leaders Joe Bonin and Caroline Ireland, I learned that the group has been doing a variety of projects from dry-walling to roofing and much more. They have learned a lot about the Habitat program and community in which they are serving.

The group really like the model of Habitat where homeowners are required to do service hours in future builds as part of the payment for their own home. This builds a unique and powerful community within the Habitat families. Early in the week they were able to meet the homeowners for whom they are building the house, which was a really valuable experience for the participants.

Disaster Relief – Beaumont, TX

Leaders Ashley Kosikowski and Caroline Trickett and the group have been amazed by the devastation from Hurricane Harvey. They have been working hard mucking out, cleaning out, and digging out debris, furniture, and even personal items from homes affected by the storm. The work is hard, but necessary in order for families to rebuild and return to their homes.

The clock is ticking, as FEMA housing will be ending this upcoming weekend and so much work is left to be done in so many homes. The magnitude of the damage has been truly eye opening. Hurricane Harvey hit in late August, yet many people have not yet been able to return to their homes. The group has high spirits as they dive in to this difficult but important work.

Homebound Food Assistance – Washington, D.C.

Leaders Emily Vallari and Sam O'Neil were excited about their week, and the work their group has been doing. The group is enjoying being in our Nation’s Capital. They are serving at Food and Friends preparing meals for the homebound and making some deliveries too. Today they also served at D.C. Kitchen working with volunteers and chefs in the area to prepare meals for the homeless.

The leaders expressed how impressed the group is of the staff of both of these organizations, and the care with which they attend to the meals they prepare. For many the food deliveries have been touching experiences. Juxtaposing this amid the monuments and politics of the D.C. area has been a big part of their reflection conversation.

Hospitality for the Homeless – Phoenix, AZ

Leaders Greg Tubman and Jenna Baker were excited to share all that they have been doing in Arizona. They started off their week with a visit to Maggie’s Place to meet up with Danielle O’Neil '17 who is spending a post grad year of service there. Then they dove into their work at Andre House, where they have had a variety of jobs and experiences.

They have made food bank runs, cleaned bathrooms, helped to manage the guest shower schedule, organized in the clothing closet, did guest laundry, prepped meals, welcomed guests, and served meals to over 600 guests a day. In the evenings, they spend time at the men’s transitional house before they head to their own house for reflection and a good night’s rest. They have spent time with Sam MacDonald '15 who is a former core member at Andre House and continues to volunteer there. Tonight they will get to spend time with the current core staff and alums Erin Clapp '17 and Miranda Groux '17.

Refugee Resettlement – Manchester, NH

With great enthusiasm, leaders Ashley Robichaud and Braelyn Croteau shared with me the details of their week right here in Manchester. This group has been working with several different agencies here in the Queen City.

For the International Institute of New England, they have been going into homes of refugee families to install window winterization kits, providing much needed warmth in these draft apartments during the cold winter. With Inti Soccer Academy they have helped at the after-school program and provided creativity to some planning for a yearbook for the program and a new advertising plan. For the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, they helped with some organizing and cleaning. And at the New Hampshire Food Bank they helped sorting food. It has been a fully packed week, and they are treasuring the opportunity to learn more about our very own community here in Manchester.

Restoration, Resilience, & Reengagement – New Orleans, LA

Our NOLA participants and leaders Nicole Francischelli and Adrianna Manzi are embracing the culture, history, and community in New Orleans. Working with two different service agencies and staying at Duchesne House, which provides evening activities and educational experiences, this group has been kept very busy.

In the mornings they serve with Saint Bernard Project, continuing the rebuilding post Hurricane Katrina. In the afternoons, they work with New Orleans Mission to bring food to different neighborhoods. NOM receives donations from local grocery stores daily and averages 10,000 pounds of food a day. On Monday, our group distributed a record of 19,000 pounds of food in two hours.

Simple Living & Stewardship – Salem, WV

It was great to hear the voices of leaders Kelsey Kurtz and Lauren Case from the landline at their site.  The group is enjoying the simplicity of Nazareth Farm where they have the unique experience of turning off all social media and technology – even their watches so they can build relationships and focus on the service within the community. (Accordingly, there are no photos to share from this group!)

Joined by students from SUNY Oswego, Merrimack College, and the University of Dayton, they are divided into groups and sent out to provide a variety of services in this rural Appalachian region of West Virginia. From light construction, to cleaning projects and nursing home visits. These Anselmians are enjoying the education, service, simplicity, and reflection of their service week.

Social Justice in the City – Hartford, CT

After checking in with leaders Georgie Rooney and Maggie O'Connor it was clear that this group has been learning a ton about social justice issues. Our group is staying at the Hartford Catholic Worker House and getting to know the work they do and community they support. They have been helping with dinner and having discussions with people who work at HCW about the history and mission of the house.

During the morning they have been working with the Opportunity Academy, an alternative high school working directly with student in theatre, math, video, and English classes. They have also been engaged in cleaning projects at HCW. Afternoons have been spent working in the after-school program at the HCW, playing with kids in the neighborhood and building relationships.

Urban Poverty Relief – Atlanta, GA

At this new site, leaders Martha Heavey and Meg Golden, along with their group are enjoying a balance between educational experiences and activities, with the hands on service they are able to do in a variety of areas. Early in the week they served at Books for Africa and on the farm at Truly Living Well.

They have visited the MLK Center and Civil Rights museum too. Enjoying the beauty and culture of Atlanta, the excitement of the National College Football playoffs, the lessons they are learning, and the service they are able to engage in!

Urban Community Development – Philadelphia, PA

Leaders Emma Kincaid and Danielle Phinney and our group are loving their week at this new site in Philadelphia. They have been involved in a variety of different services from working in stock room of a thrift store run by "formerly folks" who were formerly homeless, serving at the Kensington Food Pantry, ministering at an Adult Day Care facility for adults with special needs – helping with exercises, eating, and playing Bingo, to serving at Broad St. Ministry – a church which provides dinner for those in need in the community.

They have also engaged in some educational activities, learning that the Kensington area of Philadelphia has the second highest hunger rates in the U.S., and that the area is described as a food desert. They also partook in a food challenge. In small groups they had to plan a meal on very limited funds – a simulation activity that puts the challenges of hunger, poverty, and homelessness into perspective.