WBA 2018 Returning to the Hilltop

WBA 2018 trips began their return to campus late Friday evening.  All 10 trips have made it back to campus!

Returned to campus:

  • Disaster Relief – Beaumont, TX:  arrived on campus at 4:15 p.m. Sunday
  • Hospitality for the Homeless – Phoenix, AZ – arrived on the hilltop at 8 a.m. Saturday
  • Refugee Resettlement – Manchester, NH – returned to campus by 1:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Urban Poverty Relief – Atlanta, GA – were dropped off by flight line at 3:30 p.m. Saturday
  • Restoration, Resilience, & Re-engagement – New Orleans, LA – were picked up at the Manchester Airport at 4 pm Saturday
  • Homebound Food Assistance – Washington, D.C.; Social Justice in the City – Hartford, CT; Urban Community Development – Philadelphia, PA all arrived on campus at 5:45 p.m. Saturday
  • Building Affordable Housing – Winston-Salem, NC arrived on campus at 7:30 p.m. after a long day of travel Saturday
  • Simple Living & Stewardship – Salem, WV arrived on campus at 12:30 a.m. Sunday after a long day of travel


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.

Site Descriptions: Winter Break Alternative 2018

With our Winter Break Alternative groups now at their host communities for the week, their attention will turn to providing service, and standing in solidarity with those in need. Their work will be guided by numerous host organizations. Below, you will find a general description of the work each group will be performing. We look forward to sharing mid-week updates here on the blog. Social media updates can be seen on the right side of this blog, and by following the hashtag: #SACWBA

Students providing community assistanceSimple Living and Stewardship (Salem, West Virginia)

Participants will be working with Nazareth Farm. This Appalachia site is a rural building and outreach program that involves working with those in extreme rural poverty. Students will engage in work that involves both physical labor and community outreach. Students will go beyond hammering nails and painting walls and dig deep into the basic need for people to feel loved and appreciated.

Urban Poverty Relief (Atlanta, Georgia)

Participants will be work with DOOR Atlanta.  Located in the heart of the South, and the home of a Civil Rights Museum, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, and the Carter Center, Atlanta is often seen as the headquarters for civil rights and social justice.  Atlanta is a city fueled by many cultures and is a significant immigration center. Participants are greeted with southern hospitality while serving people who may be mentally disabled and/or struggling with homelessness, or helping recent immigrants transition into a home.  These experiences help DOOR Atlanta participants break down some of the stereotypes that people often have of those in the city and see the face of God in those with whom they interact.

Social Justice in the City (Hartford, Connecticut)

Participants will be working with the Hartford Catholic Worker House and serving in the greater Hartford area with a variety of service agencies.  The aim of this trip is to both learn about Catholic Social Teaching and the Catholic Worker movement, as well as put these lessons into practice via their service engagements in the Hartford area.

Refugee Resettlement (Manchester, New Hampshire)

Participants will work with International Institute of New England. The International Institute of New England helps with the resettlement of families in the United States and provides them services such as workforce development, assists with transition to a new culture, and educates them on important topics such a financial sustainability and job interviewing skills to promote self-sustainability.

At the site, students will assist the staff at the institute with numerous activities such as resettlement of families in the United States, providing them services such as workforce development, help with transition to a new culture, and educate them on important topics such a financial sustainability.

Restoration, Resilience, Re-Engagement (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Participants will be working at the St. Bernard Project where they will assist in the rebuilding of homes for families who cannot afford to do so themselves.  They will be spending their afternoons serving meals through the city through NOLA missions.  Each evening they will be engaged in educational experiences about New Orleans and the continued rebuilding after hurricane Katrina provided by the Sisters at Duchesne House.

Building Affordable Housing (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Participants will be working with Habitat for Humanity’s collegiate challenge, through Forsythe Habitat for Humanity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  Their work will include construction, thrift store work, and donation procurement, alongside homeowners serving to help build their home and the homes of their neighbors. Students will be working to help the Forsyth Habitat meet its mission of seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Urban Community Development (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Participants will be working with the Daughters of Charity at St. Vincent De Paul in Philadelphia. Students will be engaged in both educational activities as well as service grounding in Catholic Social Teaching, the corporal works of mercy, and the mission of St. Vincent De Paul.

Hospitality for the Homeless (Phoenix, Arizona)

Participants will be working with The André House of Hospitality. The Andre House is a Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen where students will help provide homemade dinner to as many as 600 people every night in the “zone” of Phoenix. They also provide laundry services, a clothing closet and showers for guests. Through these services, the Andre House provides dignity to people who have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances.

Disaster Relief (Beaumont, Texas)

Participants will be working with Community Collaborations with Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts in Beaumont, TX.  Initial focus will be on preparing flooded homes for restoration, which includes muckout, gutting, cleaning and sanitizing, mold control and remediation, and finally reconstruction.

Homebound Food Assistance (Washington, D.C.)

Participants will be working with Food and Friends. Food & Friends is the only organization in the Washington, DC, area providing specialized, nutritious meals, groceries, nutrition counseling and friendship to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. Our students will serve by preparing and delivering meals and groceries to those in need.

WBA 2018 Departures and Arrivals

Winter Break Alternative 2018 has officially begun. 42 students met in the Dana Center at 2 a.m. amid the frigid temperatures anxious to get to warmer climates and begin their week of service & solidarity. All WBA groups have arrived safely and begun their week of service.  Check-in mid-week (Wednesday evening/Thursday a.m.) for mid-week updates.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support of our students!

Arrivals:  Stay tuned throughout the afternoon and later tonight for arrival updates!


  • SJC- Hartford:  Arrived at the Mystic Aquarium for the start of their week, later today they will settle in at the Catholic Worker House in Hartford to begin their week of service.  They have arrived at their final destination!
  • UCD – Philly:  Arrived safely at their host site in Philadelphia and have jumped right in to their orientation for their week of simplicity and service.
  • HFA – Washington, D.C.:  Arrived at the Hostel International in D.C. after a long day of travel.  They are settling in and getting some rest to get ready for serving at Food and Friends and D.C. Kitchen tomorrow.
  • BAH- N.C.:  arrived late Sunday to their housing in Winston-Salem, N.C. after a long day with a few fun pit stops (Hershey Chocolate Factory) along the way.  They have a big day ahead of them Monday with Forsythe Habitat.
  • SL&S – WV:  arrived safely Sunday evening at Nazareth Farm, where they have no cell service.  Group settled in, participated in orientation, and are eager to begin their work Monday a.m.


  • UPR – Atlanta: Arrived safely to their site DOOR in Atlanta, GA. They met up with the site coordinator Chad and are getting settled, before they head out to the National Civil Rights Museum. They are happy to be in much warmer weather!
  • RR – Manchester: Arrived safely at their site, getting settled into their housing, and will kick-off their week inside at Inti Soccer Academy as they weather this frigid weather.
  • RRR – NOLA: Arrived safely at Duchesne House where there were greeted warmly by Sr. Bonnie and the weather! Once settled in, they are headed to the Hurricane Katrina museum.
  • HH – Phoenix: Arrived safely in Phoenix and settled in to their housing, got a tour of Andre House and is now headed out to spend the day serving with Danielle O'Neil '17, who is spending a year in post-graduate service at Maggie's Place, a community that provides houses of hospitality for pregnant and parenting women in need.
  • DR – Texas: Arrived safely in Houston and are settled into their housing in Beaumont. After a long day of travel they will rest, get dinner and enjoy the 60+ degree temperatures as they get ready to explore this area of Texas on Sunday.

Departures:  All 10 trips have left campus for their week of service!


  • Simple Living & Stewardship – Salem, WV met in the Dana center at 3:30 a.m. and hit the road for a long day of driving to Salem, WV.
  • Building Affordable Housing – Winston-Salem, NC gathered at 5:30 a.m., packed up their vans, took a quick picture and then hit the road at 6 a.m.
  • Social Justice in the City – Hartford, CT hit the road just before 8 a.m. and are headed to Mystic to enjoy the Aquarium before settling in at the Catholic Worker House in Hartford.
  • Homebound Food Assistance – Washington, D.C. was ahead of schedule excited about the experience ahead of them. Group departed the hilltop at 8:25 a.m.
  • Urban Community Development – Philadelphia, PA 8:50 a.m., quick stop at Dunkin's, and they are on their way.


  • The Disaster Relief trip to Houston/Beaumont, TX; Hospitality for the Homeless trip to Phoenix, AZ; and the Urban Poverty Relief trip to Atlanta, GA loaded onto a coach bus at 2:30 a.m. to head to Logan airport. Their flights began departing at 5:30 this morning.
  • Disaster Relief – Texas had a significant delay. They departed Boston Logan at 9:30 a.m. for their flight to Houston.
  • Restoration, Resilience, & Re-engagement – New Orleans, LA departed campus at 4:30 a.m. to head to the Manchester airport for an early morning flight. All went smoothly. They made it to Chicago-Midway and will depart to New Orleans from there.
  • Refugee Resettlement – Manchester, NH had a slow start in the cold but have departed campus and are ready to learn what being a refugee resettlement city is all about, while discovering the cultural diversity of our home city.



Sending Forth Winter Break Alternative 2018

Each break at Saint Anselm College, the Office of Campus Ministry sends students (and a handful of faculty/staff) to do service in several locations both domestically and internationally. The Service & Solidarity Missions program, now in its 28th year, provides its participants not only with the opportunity to serve others but also with an experience that further develops lessons learned in the classroom.

2018 Service & Solidarity leadersThroughout their week of service, prayer, and reflection students step beyond their comfort zone and ask themselves meaningful questions about who they want to be in the world.

This year’s 138 Winter Break participant’s will journey throughout the United States to Salem, West Virginia; Phoenix, Arizona; Winston-Salem, NC; Beaumont, TX; Atlanta, GA; Manchester NH, Hartford CT, New Orleans LA, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, PA.

We ask for your prayers for these participants, for the work they will be doing, the communities for which they will be serving, and the personal challenges each participant will face.

On behalf of the Service & Solidarity: WBA leaders and participants 2018, and the entire Campus Ministry staff; I thank you in advance for your prayers and support.

Peace and Happy New Year,
Susan Gabert '91
Director, Campus Ministry

WBA 2017 Back At The Hilltop Updates

It is hard to believe that the week has wrapped up and the groups are on their way back to the hilltop. We await the stories and memories to be shared! Below you will find the status of each trip and expected arrival time that will be updated as the trips arrived back.

Appalachia: Appalachia left Salem, WV at approximately 10:0am this morning and are currently en-route. They will be arriving campus late this evening!

Baltimore: Has arrived safely home at approximately 3:30pm after an uneventful drive!

Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge will be traveling with the New Orleans group home. They are at their gate for their flight to Nashville at 4:35pm (central time) and expected in Boston at 9:20pm.

D.C.- Left the Nation's capital at 5:00am and arrived back to campus at around 2:15pm. They are napping before the welcome back party tonight!

Dominican Republic: Has safely arrived at JFK. The flight has been delayed to depart at 5:30 and is expected to arrive in Boston at 6:46pm! We are excited to welcome them back to NH and the cold weather!

Habitat VA: Left Abingdon, VA at 6:00am this morning and are expecting to arrive on campus around 10:00pm.

Manchester: Manchester arrived safely back to campus at about 1:00pm and are also resting up for the party later this evening.

New Orleans: Will be traveling with the Baton Rouge group home. They are at their gate for their flight to Nashville at 4:35pm (central time) and expected in Boston at 9:20pm.

Phoenix: Phoenix is awaiting their flight to Atlanta and then will arrive at 9:45 in Boston with the New Orleans and Baton Rouge groups.

Mid-Week Updates: Part 2

As the night progressed and the morning came, the remaining trips called to update us on their progress and accomplishments. With just today and tomorrow left in the work week, trips are getting ready to transition home but not before they accomplish what they set out to do.

Appalachia: Leaders Zach Sirowich '18 and Teresa Samson '17 used a land line (yes, they still have those!) to check-in this morning. With limited service and no access to cell phones or watches during the day at Nazareth Farm, the group has been immersed in the work and the site values of community, simplicity, prayer, and service. Morgan Brady '18 says at first she was skeptical of the restrictions at the site, but has now embraced the values of simplicity and community much more than she ever thought. Focusing on the richness of these values has allowed her to examine her own life and appreciate it on a deeper level.

The group has participated in various projects from grounds-work, hanging drywall, painting, and building a porch for a residence in Salem, WV. The leaders and participants are eager to take not only their new skills home, but their newfound perspectives and outlooks.

Baltimore: Leaders Marissa Perschini '17 and Georgie Rooney '18 relayed how their exposure to hunger and homelessness in the greater Baltimore area has opened their groups hearts and minds more than they could have imagined. Throughout the week, the group has assisted at various soup kitchens and nursing home in the local area through Catholic Charities of Baltimore.

On Monday, the group served 671 meals in 2 hours at Our Daily Bread! That evening, the group served meals, restaurant style to the guests of My Sister's Place, a women's center. The group also visited the elderly and assisted with Bingo operations from reading numbers, moving the markers, and having fun! The group continued to minister to the homeless at the Housing Resource Center where they served over 350 meals in four hours. As the week comes to a close, the group is reflecting on how to bring the lessons and realities they have learned back to the Hilltop.

D.C.: Jenna Baker '18 and Meghan Golden '18 discussed how impressed they and their group was with the organization and efficiency of Food and Friends, delivering meals to the home bound. Each morning the group works together to organize and then package the meals that are to be delivered.

Once packaged, the meals are loaded into the vans. The group then travels to different residences throughout D.C. and Maryland and delivers the meals. The group has reflected on the themes of hospitality and dignity and how these two ideals are easily to take for granted.

New Orleans: Continuing to be immersed in the vast culture New Orleans, Cullen Clougherty '19 and Maggie Walker '17 recounted their tour of Lower 9th Ward and the bayou. Being exposed to the culture and richness of the area has allowed the group to have a great appreciation of their surroundings.

The group continues their work with SBP (St. Bernard Project) using power tools (safely!) for their projects. The group has obtained a vast amount of knowledge and skills already!

A Glimpse Into the Work Week

Just two days into the work week, Winter Break Alternative 2017 is in full swing with service work happening at all of our sites! Pictures and stories are still coming in from many of our groups. We are eager to get more and more updates from the groups as the week goes on, especially from the groups who are farther away!

Appalachia (Salem, WV): Reported this morning with a brief check in to say that wood splitting and wood work have been keeping the group busy. Looking forward to pictures to come!

Baltimore: On Monday, WBA Baltimore Group served 671 meals in just 2 hours at Our Daily Bread!
Baltimore Our Daily BreadDC: WBA DC served those who are homebound throughout the city with Food and Friends. They are seen wearing their hairnets with pride!

WBA DC hair netsHabitat VA: WBA Habitat VA has been keeping busy with demolition of porches and old structures. There also seems to be some dumpster diving taking place!
habitat-demoNOLA: WBA New Orleans has been "sheet-rocking and rolling" and framing in the beautiful sunny, warm weather.

Mid-week updates will be coming in from the groups between Wednesday and Thursday, so stay tuned!

WBA 2017 Weekend Wanderings

With some of the WBA trips at their destinations, trips were able to explore the area and acclimate before their official workweek began! An important objective of the Service and Solidarity Program is to expose the participants to new cultural experiences and environments. Be it the food they eat, the music they hear, the art they see or the historical nature of their location, the goal is to take advantage of all that is around them.

Baltimore and DC: After taking some time to rest after the long commute Friday night into early Saturday morning, WBA Baltimore WBA DC attended mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and were warmly welcomed! They then braved the cold weather and view the monuments in our nation's capital!

WBA DC and WBA Baltimore at the White HouseNew Orleans and Baton Rouge: WBA NOLA was joined in the French Quarter by WBA Baton Rouge for the day. The leaders were able to grab a lovely cup of joe and pastries as their groups took their time enjoying the sunshine and all the area had to offer.

baton-nola-leadersHartford: WBA Hartford did not let the snow and frigid temperatures stop them from having fun! After assisting their community in shoveling, they visited the local outdoor skating rink, carousel, and posed in front of the capital building.

hartfordAppalachia and Habitat: Finally arrived at their work sites and had a few hours of sleep before awaking Monday morning to begin their work week!

Look back for more updates in the middle of the week!

WBA 2017: Travel Day, Part 2

Despite significant winter weather down the east coast today, most groups have had a relatively hassle-free travel day. With the exception of Appalachia and Habitat — who will depart at 6 a.m. Sunday — all other groups are en-route or have arrived at their host sites as of 5 p.m.

WBA Baton Rouge at the airport10 p.m. Update

All trips that departed from campus today have safely arrived at their host sites. Appalachia and Habitat will depart campus early Sunday morning. Check in later Sunday for an update as groups settle in, and begin their week of Service & Solidarity. Thank you for your continued prayers and good wishes for a wonderful week ahead.


Groups En-Route

Dominican Republic: Passing through customs now, and adjusting to the change in weather! The group will soon travel to the children's home Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos where they will spend their week.

Phoenix: After a quick, but easy connection in Atlanta, the group is now in the air to Phoenix. They are scheduled to arrive after 7 o'clock local time in Arizona (9 o'clock eastern).

Baton Rouge: On the ground in St. Louis, awaiting their connecting flight to New Orleans, with a scheduled arrival of approximately 6 o'clock local time (7 o'clock eastern).

New Orleans: Following a missed connection in Atlanta, the group has been booked on Southwest flight 726. This flight is currently delayed, but is scheduled to arrive in New Orleans around 8 o'clock local time (9 o'clock eastern).

Safe Arrivals

Baltimore, D.C., Hartford and Manchester are all safely at their host sites, and are settling in.