Mid Week Check-Ins: Enjoying Every Moment

All groups called for the mid week check-ins yesterday and everyone is fully immersed in the rhythms of their temporary homes. We've been blessed to have smooth trips, great leaders, and willing participants who are making the best of every moment of SBA 2016!

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SBA Updates : The Service Begins

After a busy travel day and then an eventful 'free day' of touring and sightseeing, all groups have started their service.

SBA Maine took advantage of the nice weather and spent most of the day stacking and cutting wood…LOTS of wood. Then, they rearranged and cleaned out a garage and a barn. Some participants also helped put shingles on a roof for a new craft center. There's always more work to do at H.O.M.E.!

We have several groups who were doing various forms of home repair, deconstruction, and clean up. SBA Carolina spent the day doing black mold removal and home repair on a trailer that had been damaged in the South Carolina floods last fall. They had lots of laughs while wearing their anti-contamination suits.

SBA Gulf Coast also spent time doing demolition work and roofing; they're loving the warm weather down in Biloxi, Mississippi.

SBA Detroit is doing their own deconstruction, though the weather is not quite the same! Despite the cold temperatures they are representing Anselmians well, and were told by their coordinator that they accomplished twice as much as other groups usually do…"You guys aren't afraid to get dirty!"

Down in Los Chiles, SBA Costa Rica is well under way with their own construction work. They are building a house with no power tools, which involves carrying and stacking large slabs of concrete, and digging holes for wall beams and the septic system. Not afraid to get dirty and muddy themselves, the group has enjoyed what down time they have by drinking out of fresh coconuts and enjoying a passing rain shower in the tropical temperatures.

SBA Kentucky arrived Sunday night at the David School after their long two-day drive. They were greeted by alumna Molly Frost, '15, who led the SBA trip to Kentucky last year! She is currently doing a year of service at the David School after having such an amazing experience during her trip last year. I was told there may have been a few tears shed at the reunion of Anselmians and friendly faces.

Both SBA Kentucky and SBA Maryland spent Monday in the classrooms of their schools. At the Benedictine school the group is helping in residential and classroom settings for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The group has been blown away by the powerful experiences and interactions with both residents and staff.

SBA Mississippi is getting started on camp cleanup with Fr. Tim Murphy at Camp Friendship (formerly Camp Glenmary). They experienced a beautiful Spanish Mass followed by a feast prepared by local residents. Southern hospitality is very real in Aberdeen!

SBA NYC said that their first day at God's Love We Deliver was 'incredible'. As a new trip and new program, its nice to know that it is such a good missional fit. On Sunday night before beginning work the group met up with 2 alumni for dinner, Norma Dhanaraj and Josh Dupuis, both class of '09.  They talked to the group about their role this week and the issue of homelessness in New York City. The group is having a lot of discussion about the contrast between the haves and have-nots in a city like New York.

As the week continues there will be lots of time to reflect on why these trips are taken and the role of service in our lives. One way to sum it: "Service is what prayer looks like when it gets up off its knees and walks around in the world."

Detailed Travel Updates and Day Off Plans

SBA South Carolina was the first group to arrive at their site in Manning, S.C. They landed in Charlotte, rented some vehicles and headed towards Columbia. On the way they stopped for a quick lunch in Great Falls at a local house of pizza. After arrival they quickly got settled in to rest up for a long week ahead. Today the group is excited to spend their free day taking a walking tour of historic Charleston.

SBA Detroit was the only group to have a direct flight. They used their extra time to explore the drive between Detroit and Port Huron, Mich., where they will be serving. Last night, the group enjoyed the scenic views on the beaches of the third largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Huron, stopping to take a selfie! Today the group is headed back to Detroit for Mass and to explore the art, music, and culture that Detroit has to offer.

SBA Mississippi touched down at the Memphis Airport in the late afternoon and were met by Fr Tim Murphy who oversees Camp Friendship where they will be serving. One participant's luggage did not make the flight, so the group made a quick stop for some necessary back up supplies. Fortunately, the luggage was found and is being delivered this morning. If that's the biggest problem we face, this group is in good shape!

SBA Gulf Coast had the longest layover of any trip, spending about three hours in the Atlanta terminal. They used the opportunity to people watch, and spotted former Senator Rick Santorum. Seems like Anselmians will always find the politicians, on or off the Hilltop!  The group eventually arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi, where the weather is beautiful. After being in planes and airport terminals all day, the group is excited to spend the week outdoors doing environmental cleanup and ecological restoration. They got started right away by taking pictures of the sunset over the water at their campground and new home for the next week.

SBA NYC had a busy day of connections, taking a bus to a bus to a subway train. By the end of the week, they will be masters of New York City's public transportation. There's been a lot of laughter as the group adjusts to their new surroundings on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  With so much to see and do in the Big Apple, the group was getting started early today with Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

SBA Maine had the shortest drive. They made a quick pit stop in Portland, Maine for lunch and then pushed on through to Orland. They got settled in at the Emmaus house and made a quick shopping trip for supplies. Then they settled in for baked pasta and salad prepared by three of their participants: Kelsey Leblanc, Eleni Petromelis, and Meghan Golden. On SBA Maine, everybody gets their chance to make a meal!

SBA Kentucky has a long two-day drive, but are using the time for good group bonding. They arrived at the appropriately named 'Super 8 Halfway' in Hagerstown, Maryland around 8 p.m. on Saturday. They were tired and hungry and indulged in some local fried chicken before heading to sleep. They began the day with a bilingual Mass in Hagerstown and then hit the road. Their drive takes them right along the north/south border of the country and close to many historic Civil War sites. They're currently enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery, and hoping to take in some history with their lunch!

SBA Maryland had the latest arrival after some traffic and vehicle delays. Everyone finally arrived safe and sound, but a few hours later than originally planned for. They walked into their new house to find out that one of the local nuns had stocked their fridge with breakfast supplies, and left fried chicken for them. After being tired and hungry, it was more than they could have asked for.

And last but not least, SBA Costa Rica had a long day of travel, and finally arrived at their site tired and hungry (a theme among our last three trips!). The group is staying in Los Chiles, on the Nicaraguan border, and had a several hour bus ride after their flight to San Jose. It afforded them a chance to see much of the country side. The common expression "Pura Vida" is used in many forms in Costa Rica, from a greeting, to a synonym for "excellent."  Strictly translated it means, pure life, in other words…life is wonderful; enjoy it. Every one they've met has been nice and helpful, and they are looking forward to pura vida.

Tired, hungry, but with full hearts and grateful spirits, SBA 2016 is well under way! Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes, and keep following along on Twitter for constant updates and pictures.

Saint Anselm College service trip to NYC

SBA Travel Day Updates: Groups Have Safely Arrived

UPDATE
Saturday, 10 p.m.

As of 10 p.m. on Saturday, all trips have safely arrived at their final destinations! Costa Rica is at their site in Los Chiles and Maryland has arrived at the Benedictine school. Kentucky won't arrive at the David school until Sunday but arrived at the 'Halfway Super 8' in Hagerstown, Maryland where they will spend the night.

Detailed updates will follow on Sunday. Don't forget to follow along on Twitter for additional updates and pictures at #SACSBA.


Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

After a long travel day, South Carolina, Detroit, Mississippi, Gulf Coast, NYC, and Maine are all settled in at their sites. We were been blessed with great weather and only minor problems, including one missing bag. Most sites will use tomorrow as a free day to explore their surroundings and take in the culture and history of the area.

Kentucky, Maryland, and Costa Rica have the longest trips but so far at every check point things have been coming along smoothly.

Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes!

Saint Anselm College service trip to Maryland arrival

SBA Maryland welcomed by host with fried chicken dinner!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: SBA 2016 is on the way!

It was a busy morning but as of 10:15 a.m. all nine SBA trips have left campus and are en route to their final destinations!

With five trips flying we had a caravan of deliveries to Logan Airport in Boston, Mass. Our first groups met before 3 a.m., with SBA South Carolina, Costa Rica, and Mississippi leading off.  The South Carolina group had a quick layover in Detroit, Michigan and are now en route to their final destination in Charlotte, North Carolina. The group was excited for leader Joey Smith's first time on an airplane! SBA Costa Rica had a quick stop in Philadelphia, Penn., and are already on the way to their final destination of Los Chiles by way of San Jose. SBA Mississippi had the longest first leg and will soon be touching down for a quick layover before they arrive in Memphis, Tenn.

In the meantime back on campus, our driving trips left in this morning. SBA Kentucky and Maryland had the longest drives; Kentucky will spend the night in a hotel as they make the first leg of their two-day drive.

Meanwhile the New York City group boarded a bus and are enjoying a leisurely trip to the Big Apple. They'll be getting used to public transportation this week as they traverse Manhattan, like true New Yorkers.

Our other two flying trips, SBA Detroit and Gulf Coast, met on campus around 6 a.m. and arrived with the second leg to Logan. Detroit will be touching down soon after their direct flight to begin their week with Habitat for Humanity. Meanwhile our environmental restoration trip to Gulf Coast will be the last group to arrive at their final destination in Biloxi after a layover in Atlanta, Georgia.

Last but not least, our largest group, SBA Maine, left campus a short time ago. It's fitting that they are both the last and the largest, as H.O.M.E in Orland, Maine was the very first trip that started the Service and Solidarity Missions Program at Saint Anselm in 1991, 25 years ago! Little did that group know the seeds they were sowing for so many future Anselmians.

More updates to come later today as we hear about the safe arrivals of all our trips. For now, the preparation and legwork is done from home base, and the important work of serving and reflecting can actually begin. Please keep all our participants and those they will encounter this week in your prayers.

Updated: 10 p.m.

As of 10 o'clock, all trips have safely arrived at their final destinations! Costa Rica is at their site in Los Chiles and Maryland has arrived at the Benedictine school. Kentucky won't arrive at the David school until Saturday, but they are at the 'Halfway Super 8' in Hagerstown, Maryland where they will spend the night.

Detailed updates will follow Saturday, but for tonight it is time for rest for the Service and Solidarity Program. Don't forget to follow along on Twitter for additional updates and pictures at #SACSBA!

SBA Prepares to Depart

It's been a busy week of preparation as we count down to our final departure time for our Spring Break Alternative trips. Our leaders and staff have been working for nearly ten months to get ready for the upcoming week and now its crunch time!

Last night we had a beautiful Send Off Mass presided over by Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B. In his homily he urged all to remember to be on the lookout for those on the margins, and to recognize that it is not enough to do no harm. It is our hope that these trips serve to open up the eyes of all participants to see the wider world, and to recognize their place in it.

At the Mass, each participant was recognized and each group was given prayer cards, crosses, and a candle to use during the week. These candles will help remind the groups to keep each other in mind and pray for all Service and Solidarity participants throughout the week.  Many members of the college choir, which is traveling to Ireland during spring break, were present as well!

First flights leave Boston at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 27, so there will be a very early morning for many participants. In the meantime, our cars are gathered, medical kits and supplies are packed, and leaders are finalizing their preparations.  More to come tomorrow as groups hit the road for a busy travel day!

Spring Break Alternative 2016: Service Site Descriptions

Spring Break Alternative is part of the college’s Service and Solidarity Missions through the Office of Campus Ministry. In its 26th year, these mission trips allow students to lean about Catholic social teaching while living and working for those in need. The trips gives Saint Anselm students the opportunity to build and renovate homes, tutor children, serve in soup kitchens, and visit with local families and individuals in the community.

SBA South Dakota group photo

2016 S.B.A. Service Sites

Aberdeen, Mississippi

Participants will work at Camp Glenmary, a summer camp in rural Mississippi for underprivileged youth. Saint Anselm student-volunteers will assist in various tasks such as yard work, painting, and light construction to prepare for summer. They will also engage in the local community and experience southern hospitality.

Biloxi, Mississippi (Gulf Coast)

Student volunteers will work with Community Collaborations International. The primary purpose of the project is gulf coast eco-system restoration. Volunteers will complete projects such as: shoreline restoration, native plant propagation, sea grass restoration, wild-life habitat improvement, dune restoration, storm water treatment, public land restoration and invasive species removal. Students will also spend time with the local Boys and Girls Club.

Ridgely, Maryland

At the Benedictine School in Maryland participants will work in classrooms and residential life settings at a school for children and young adults with disabilities. They serve nearly 200 children and adults ages 5-21.

Each student-volunteer works as a teacher’s assistant during school hours and works with students doing extracurricular activities. Students spend evenings socializing in the residence halls.

Vanceburg, Kentucky

At The David School, our Saint Anselm students will serve youth in grades 9-12, working with the youth of rural Kentucky in an educational setting as teacher assistants, tutors, and even teaching a class. Saint Anselm students will connect with their teachers prior to attending SBA to plan some lessons accordingly and learn more about their student population.

The mission of The David School is to provide a comprehensive educational program for Appalachian high school dropouts and at-risk youths who have limited financial resources and the potential to succeed in a non-traditional setting.

Costa Rica

Through Unbound, a site in rural Costa Rica, participants will engage in outreach to children and build a home for a local family. Last year during Lent the Saint Anselm community donated money to help this group of students build a home for a family in need. During the spring break week these Saint Anselm volunteers will work alongside local Costa Ricans who will supervise them in the weeks’ building project. This community is quite rural and is not equipped with power equipment, so our group will build, mix concrete, and dig the septic system all by hand. Unbound is a sponsorship program to underprivileged children offering them a lifetime of services.

New York City, New York

Students will travel to New York City to work at a new SBA site, God’s Love We Deliver. God’s Love We Deliver's mission is to improve the health and well-being of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. Participants will prepare and deliver nutritious, high-quality meals to people who, because of their illness, are unable to provide or prepare meals for themselves. All of this organization’s services are provided free of charge without regard to income.

South Carolina (Gulf Coast)

Participants will work with Community Collaborations International at the second of two Gulf Coast sites. This organization takes a holistic approach to community recovery. This group of Anselmians will help with flood recovery efforts – working on homes directly impacted by the weather, local community organizations, such as food banks and after school programs, all of whom struggle to meet the increased needs of their clients and constituents. Many of these organizations and their staff members have suffered direct impact from the flood. Our group will work to help these organizations serve their constituents and get back on their feet.

Maine

Participants will work at Homeowners Organized for More Employment (H.O.M.E.), an Emmaus Community. This site in Maine serves those most in need. Our 26th year at this site (the oldest of our SBA sites), student volunteers will engage in building projects, serving in soup kitchens, farming, and childcare, while working alongside those who live in the community. This experience helps to expose our students to the realities of rural poverty and the many challenges people in these communities face.

Detroit, Michigan

Participants will work with Blue Water Habitat for Humanity in Port Huron, Michigan, which seeks to put God’s love into action bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. This week our group will help with a deconstruction project removing items before a property is demolished or remodeled by the owner. The great part about deconstructions is that we can salvage so much to sell in the ReStore, recycle or sell as scrap, helping to reduce landfill impact and raise additional funds to combat substandard housing in our area!

All Trips Home Safe & Sound!

All of our SBA trips have returned to campus safe and sound! We had a great welcome home party tonight for all the trips to share and dance together! More stories and photos to come!

Rebuilding Homes and Hearts on SBA Detroit

Our group is rebuilding homes with Blue Water Habitat for Humanity, just outside of Detroit MI this week. Yet, it seems at the same time they are rebuilding hearts and touching lives along the way.

Here is an email we just received from Eric Wood, coordinator at Blue Water Habitat:

"I just wanted to let you know what an amazing group we have had here in Michigan.  Chris and Christina are by far the best group leaders I have worked with of all the Collegiate Challenge groups we have had in my three years here.  They are on top of things, flexible, and embody a spirit of love and service you rarely see.  The whole group is really amazing though, and that says so much about Saint Anselm College and the program you run.  You have much to be proud of!  Everyone who comes in contact with the students say that they can feel the love and energy coming from the group, and that it’s contagious. In fact, due to their excitement, we were able to recruit new volunteers.

From an event we held with the students last night, it was very evident that the whole college is a place where hospitality and service are a priority. I just want to say that any group from St. Anselm is welcome to come back whenever.  I just cannot say enough good things about Chris, Christina, and the whole St. Anselm group.  Thank you so much for adding this trip."

Even from back at home base, it feels good to hear first hand the good work our students are doing! Never been more proud to call ourselves Anselmian!

Editor's note: Photos courtesy of Amanda Marcotte / http://www.amandolinphoto.com/

Mid-Week Updates

Its hard to believe we are practically at the half way point for SBA! Its amazing how fast this week flies by, yet the memories made and the lives touched last a lifetime. We have heard from a handful of our trips thus far, and expect to hear from the rest by tomorrow mid-morning (so if you don't see the trip you are following here, check again soon!).

Appalachia – checked in earlier this evening when the group returned from service. They said that they are having an excellent time and doing all sorts of projects for the community. They mentioned the importance of "ministry of presence" there, and simply giving people their time and a listening ear to share their story. How powerful that has been! They began the week with some cultural education, and last night were able to attend a bluegrass concert which was a lot of fun! The Appalachian region is rich with culture and music. We look forward to hearing more about Glenmary Farm as the week goes on. maine

Maine – checked in after a long days work stacking wood and working on shingles. They said it has been raining/snowing non stop since they arrived on Saturday, but that has not kept them from braving the outdoors to do what they can to help at H.O.M.E! Today alone they stacked enough wood to heat H.O.M.E. for TWO WEEKS! Dave also jumped in to tell me about how much he is enjoying one of H.O.M.E.'s residents, Clint. Its good to see even a few days in that friendships are being made.

Detroit – was very excited tonight to share about all they have been up to, and I told them I already feel like we know so much thanks to the news article! (see below). Christina talked about Ron, an Army vet from the Vietnam war and how thankful he has been to have their help. It was a last-minute site change but has been a blessing for Ron and his wife. The group is working to make the house more heat efficient by re-roofing and re-insulating his home. Tomorrow the group is having dinner with Habitat volunteers and home recipients and they are very much looking forward to that.

Maryland – is having a wonderful time with their new friends at the Benedictine School, working in classrooms and hanging out in the residence halls in the evenings. Tonight they had just returned from a basketball game with the students. Lets all keep an eye out tomorrow for pictures from "Benedictine Idol"!! – where our students will perform! Philadelphia serves

Philly – served in 2 soup kitchens yesterday, and sorted food today at Philabundance. Their eyes have certainly been opened to the depth of need in Philly. Their special tour guide, alum Brad Landry '09 who now works for the Bethesda Project for the homeless, met up with the group Monday night to take them out for cheesesteaks and joined the group for evening reflection. They said his insight and understanding of the need in Philly was incredibly eye opening and helpful in making sense of the work they are doing this week. Tomorrow they will be connecting with alum Dan McVay '97 at the Cradles to Graves educational program on teen violence at Temple Hospital. So thankful for Brad, Dan and all our alums who re-connect with our trips!!