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!

SBA Travel Updates – Groups Return To Campus

All groups are en-route back to campus. Please keep our students in your prayers for their journey home. We also ask you to keep the agencies and those they serve in your prayers. These dedicated staffs will continue to do important work to meet the needs of the most vulnerable of our society.

SBA Mississippi returns home

SBA Mississippi returns home

Mississippi:  Had a wonderful week with Fr. Tim and Br. Terry.  They returned to Boston at 2 p.m. and arrived back on campus by 4 p.m. full of energy and joy!  A group who at first were anxious about how awkward it would be to spend the week together, are now a family.  They worked hard preparing Camp Glenmary for its summer campers and talk about going back to volunteer this summer.  Fr. Tim was sure to recruit and share stories of several Saint Anselm alumni who continue to spend a week at the camp each summer.

Maryland:  Took off early this morning for the long drive back to campus, but had a beautiful day for travel.  An amazing week at the Benedictine School, opening their hearts and arms to the children who live and study their.  An eye opening experience for sure.  Excited to be back on the hilltop to share their experiences with others.  The group arrived back on the hilltop at 5:00 p.m.

Education:  Arrived on campus after a full day of driving, the second day of their long journey from David, KY.  Amazingly they are full of energy and bursting with enthusiasm.  They had an amazing week assisting in the classroom and servicing at the David School!

Haiti:  We picked SBA Haiti up at the airport at 6:30 p.m.  They had a long day having left Be Like Brit at 5 a.m.  They are all nicely tanned and hearts full of the amazing week they had in Haiti.  The program provided them with the distinct opportunities:  spending time with the children, building a home for a young mother and her son, and taking excursions to learn about Haitian culture.  A wonderful week – thank you Melissa and the Be Like Brit family!

Philly:  This group served this morning at St. Francis Inn and hit the road after 1:30.  Cheering as they came into the North Lounge, the group arrived after 8 hours of driving by 9:50 p.m.  A tremendous week of lessons learned.  Welcome Home!

Gulf Coast: Landing in Logan around 8:45 p.m. the group was greeted by a group of staff and leaders at the airport.  This group rallied as they entered Upper Cushing to the cheers of the other group.  A week of cleaning up – 10 years after Hurricane Katrina!  Welcome back Anselmians!

Phoenix: Arrived at Logan airport at 11 p.m. and patiently waited for us to arrive.  Upon our arrival and welcome, and after a long day of travel, they choose to stay and welcome back the South Dakota trip!

South Dakota:  Arrived at 11:40 p.m. it took them a little while to get their bags and for us to sort out which terminal they were at.  When all was said and don it was just after midnight when we picked them up.  Both groups arrived back on the hilltop at 1:45 a.m. which soon, due to daylight saving, turned to 3 a.m.

SBA 2015 will is a wrap, a successful 25 years!  We look forward to hearing all the wonderful stories, after everyone gets some rest.  Goodnight all!

SBA Groups Begin Journey Back To Campus

It's hard to believe that the SBA week is coming to a close! Time certainly has flown by but the impact of this short week on our students will leave its imprint for years to come. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to the many agencies and their staffs that have opened their doors to us this past week.

SBA South Dakota group photoThank you for your tremendous hospitality. And thank you for the work you do each day in loving service of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are so often forgotten. Your example and continued efforts to recognize the dignity of each person you encounter is awe-inspiring.

So our groups begin their departures a little more tired than when they left the Hilltop, but with an awareness and a new perspective that we trust will inform, form, and transform them as they unpack from this short week's worth of encounters.

Travel Plans

Our SBA Education trip left David, KY this afternoon and will arrive at the hotel late this evening, completing the first leg of their two day journey back to the hilltop.

SBA Mississippi is spending the day in Memphis, TN touring the area; going to the MLK Jr. museum and will stay over in preparation for their departure tomorrow morning.

SBA South Dakota is having a tour today with Executive Director Ted and President of the Board Cory True, they will travel to the badlands, Mount Rushmore, and end the evening in Rapid City in preparation for their departure tomorrow morning.

The weather looks perfect for travel and by 1:30 tomorrow afternoon all trips but SBA Phoenix will be en route back to campus. Campus Minister Andy Fellows and I head down to Logan airport to pick-up SBA Mississippi, our first group to return to the Hilltop. Their flight is due in at 2 p.m. We anticipate being back on campus before 4 p.m. SBA Phoenix will finally join the rest of the trips heading back to the hilltop.

We expect SBA Maryland to be back on campus in the early evening and SBA Education in the later evening. We then pick-up SBA Haiti at 6:30 and SBA Gulf Coast at 8:30 p.m both at Logan.

SBA Philly will have departed the Inn in the early afternoon and should arrive back on campus around 9:30 p.m. Last but not least, we make one more trip to Logan to pick-up both SBA Phoenix and SBA South Dakota for 11:30/Midnight.

All groups will gather in the North Lounge for a Welcome Back Party – as trips arrive on campus between 8-11 p.m., giving SBA participants the opportunity to share stories, food, and laughter as they transition back to Saint Anselm. All groups should be settled and resting by the VERY early morning, then some rest before the rest of the Anselmian community returns to campus.

Big day ahead. Please pray for a safe journey home.

Mid-Week Check In

Wednesday was an exciting day; I was able to speak with the leaders from each group. It is so edifying to hear all the wonderful work and experiences our Spring Break Alternative groups are having. The leaders were so enthusiastic about all they were encountering.SBA Philly

South Dakota

I first heard from South Dakota on Tuesday night, it was great to hear the voices of leaders Haley Mount '15 and Riley Duggan '15.  For update on this trip see the previous blog!

Maryland

First thing this morning before the school day began at the Benedictine School I received my first phone call of the day from leaders Molli Marshall '16 and Molly White '15.  Regardless of the early hour, they both were full of enthusiasm and energy.  The days are exhausting but really wonderful.  Each morning the group are assigned a classroom to assist in for the day.  These classes range from students who are very high functioning to those whose functioning is quite low.  So each of the Saint Anselm students have been able to engage with a wide spectrum of Benedictine students.

At 3 p.m. they head to the residence halls where they are able to interact with students doing fun activities, in the gym, or going to the pool.  One evening they were treated to dinner at The Manor, a home for men who have graduated from the Benedictine School and live in this group home.  After dinner Chas gave the group a tour of the Manor and then a concert.  It was a special treat.  Tonight they are joining the Benedictine sisters for Mass and dinner.  Tomorrow night the Saint Anselm students will perform, lip syncing Taylor Swift and You've Got a Friend in Me – this should be a real treat for the students of the Benedictine School.

Gulf Coast

SBA Gulf CoastNext I heard from leaders Maeve Harrington '15 and Jimmy Leonard '15.  When asked how they were, they both exclaimed "Livin' the Dream." While the weather has been unpredictable, they have enjoyed every day.  This trip's focus is on the continued clean-up 10 years following Hurricane Katrina.

Today they traveled to an island off the coast and were cleaning up trash.  Each day their site supervisor Steve – who is quite a character, gives the group a word for the day to focus them on the days work.  For some afternoons they have helped at the Boys & Girls Club after-school program.  In addition, they have painted and prepped the camp where they are staying, and are responsible for preparing meals. This afternoon Maeve sent me a Snapchat of the group on a peer having a chat with a pelican.  Looks like the south is treating them well!

Haiti

Before long I received another phone call from Brenda Keys '17 and James Murphy '15.  They are enjoying the warmth and hospitality of Haiti and the Be Like Brit family.  Each day they head to their building project from eight to Noon.  The group is working on a home for a mother and her son.  For a variety of extenuating circumstances this mother and son have not been able to share a home for some time.

In the afternoon, following lunch, they are able to spend some time with 66 children, then the children head back to school and afternoon activities and our group heads out on excursions.  Then after dinner they spend more time with the children before reflection and bed.

Fr. Peter stopped into the office today and shared with us that this is the anniversary of Abbot Matthew's election as the 4th Abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey.  It is was fitting that he shared this, because one of the stories the leaders shared with me was the beauty of watching Abbot Matthew hold hands with a young Haitian boy was they crossed a river on a hike the other day.  I was not surprised to hear that Abbot Matthew is a favorite of the children.

This group's hearts are bursting with joy and love, and are truly grateful to the Be Like Brit organization for the amazing work they do.

Education

I played a little bit of phone tag with leaders Molly Frost '15 and Shannon Hess '16.  They, like other leaders, were bubbling over with excitement to share their experiences at the David School in David, KY.

This school is an alternative school for approximately 25 students ages 13-19 in this area of Appalachia.  Our education majors/minors have really enjoyed the interactions they have had this week.  Each day they are assigned a classroom to spend the day in, during 7th period the group has been able to plan some activities for the students.

The school curriculum does not include art or languages, so during the 7th period students studying to be teachers planned activities doing an art exercise and some lessons in Spanish.  One of our students has been working all week with one of the teachers to put together a formal lesson plan on poetry.

Each Saint Anselm student has had the opportunity to lead a lesson.  Each evening they prepare and eat meals with the staff.  The other evening they visited a local Benedictine monastery, which was a real treat.

They look forward to the many adventures the rest of their week has in store for them.

Phoenix

This evening while walking my dog I received a call from Sean Casey '15 and Mercedes Thayer '16.  They too spoke of long but productive days.  Apparently the weather in Phoenix has been a little cooler and a bit more rainy than usual.  The group didn't seem to mind given the weather back here at home.

A special treat for this group is the opportunity to connect with alumnus Sam MacDonald '14 who is a post-grad volunteer at the Andre House. It's edifying to see our alumni engaged in service and sharing this witness with our current students.

Each morning the group arrives at the Andre House around 9 a.m. for a morning meeting to discuss the work of the day before and to prepare for the days work.  Each participant is assigned a task for the day:  food prep, laundry, thrift store, greeting guests as the porter, handing out tickets and so forth.

Then the group gets to work and is able to get to know the many guests of Andre House.  Last evening the group served 650 people.  In the evening they go to the Men's home and share dinner with them.

The group lives in solidarity with the guests of Andre House, sharing in the same meals each day and having the opportunity to get to know a number of the guests.  After 7 p.m. the group heads back to Our Lady of Guadelupe Benedictine Monastery where they are enjoying tremendous hospitality from their hosts the Benedictine sisters.

Philly

As the evening moved along I received a call from Elaina de Mello '16 and Stephen Sullivan '15.  While I have received several Snapchat videos and pictures from the group all week, I had yet to speak with them.

It was great to hear the energy and enthusiasm in their voices for the amazing week they are experiencing at St. Francis Inn.  Each day the group is assign various tasks – food prep, cleaning, food pick-ups and deliveries, thrift shop, and cleaning.  Then they serve the meal and greet the guests.

Last evening the group was able to spend time with Dan McVay '96 as he made a special trip over to the Inn to meet with our group and talk about his work in social services in the Philly area.  This was a special treat.
The group has really done a nice job of jumping in and taking the time to share with and get to know the many guests of the Inn.  They anticipate heading to the clinic and women's shelter in the next two days and are excited about what lay ahead of them this week.

Mississippi

Late this evening I heard from our final group, leaders Amy Sennott '15 and Holly Foster '15 called.  The group is having a wonderful week, enjoying real southern hospitality.  They both joked that they have been treated so well with local church and community members feeding them at every turn that they may have to go on a diet when they come back to campus.

The weather has proven to be a real challenge for our group this week. A few days before they had arrived there was a major ice storm causing 8,000 residences in the area to be without power.  Their housing had to be rearranged and the group has to travel about 45 minutes to and from the camp each day.

Once at the camp, there is no electricity – so on the rainy days the have propane heaters and work mostly indoors preparing the cabins, meeting areas, and kitchen of the camp for the upcoming season.  On nicer days they are outside raking leaves and working on the property.

They have truly felt blessed to have Br. Terry and Fr. Tim as their hosts for the week, and while the unexpected travel has had its challenges they have been able to really get a sense of the culture, community, and the housing disparity in this region of Northeast Mississippi.