Students Spend Fall Break Serving Local Community

Monday, October 8, 2007

With Fall Break quickly approaching, many students anxiously await the four-day weekend, their families and their beds no longer a hazy vision in their distant future. A select few Saint Joseph's students, however, will be forgoing those comforts in favor of immersing themselves in the local community for a new service trip.

"Fall Break Urban Challenge" will bring 17 sophomores, juniors and seniors to the Romero Center in Camden, N.J., for a four-day stay during which they will venture into Camden and Philadelphia for local service opportunities.

In the past, most immersion trips have been far-reaching, with students going everywhere from Ecuador to Mexico to the Appalachian region. The idea of a local immersion trip seemed especially appealing, said Beth Ford, weekly service coordinator for Saint Joseph's Campus Ministry office and the staff leader for the Fall Break Urban Challenge.

"Any experience that will get students out of their comfort zone to develop relationships with people who have different backgrounds and to serve with communities that are in real need is important. This trip can help students realize the need for immersion right in our own communities," said Ford.

Joe Laverty '08, one of two student leaders for the Urban Challenge along with Trinica Nauman '08, agreed.

"We felt it was really important to have a service trip closer to home so that we can see what is needed in our local areas," said Laverty. In addition to participating in the service activities themselves, Ford, Laverty and Nauman will lead reflections and facilitate discussions on the students' service experiences.

The types of service the students will take part in will vary by day, depending on need and the availability of service sites. The Romero Center offers a wealth of opportunities for students to serve.

"I think the programs at the Romero Center are wonderful for combining the experience of service with a reflection on how we're called to live a faith that does justice," said Ford.

Most importantly, however, Ford was impressed by the amount of appeal and curiosity the program has generated from students.

"I'm really excited that there was so much student interest for this program," she said. "International and national experiences are important, and experiences in our own neighborhoods are just as valuable."

--Daniel Wisniewski ’08

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