Service and Solidarity turns Virtual for Winter Break Alternative

February 11, 2021

By Brayden Rollins ‘21

Despite the restrictions of a pandemic world, Campus Ministry held a virtual Service and Solidarity program this past winter break as part of its annual selection of Winter Break Alternative (WBA). Twenty-six students participated in four different experiences.

Service and Solidarity mission trips are an opportunity for students to gain greater awareness of social injustices by entering the community and witnessing them first hand. Students participate in direct and indirect service within their community to get hands-on experience serving and helping those in need. However, with the growing concerns of a pandemic that is not going away anytime soon, the Service and Solidarity program decided to go virtual for these winter break experiences.

“While the Service and Solidarity experience was virtual, the leaders and I tried to maintain the mission of the program,” says Riley Casey ’15, a campus minister responsible for the Service and Solidarity program. “Students were still able to build community, make memories, create new friendships… It just looked different and required participants to be intentional with their time and engagements.”

Paddy Favazza, Ph.D. with students on Zoom
Students participate in the virtual Service & Solidarity experience.

This winter’s Service and Solidarity experience focused on four areas of social injustice: homelessness, refugees/immigrants, individuals with different abilities, and those impacted by wildfires. The homelessness mission connected virtually with their normal sites in Philadelphia, Penn., with the St Francis Inn and in Phoenix, Ariz., at the Andre House of Hospitality, while the refugee and immigrant mission reached out to alumni and others who have worked with immigrants or refugees now or in the past.

“This is a topic that seems so widely talked about, and yet until I spent all this time learning about it and hearing other's experiences, I did not realize how little I knew,” explains Julia Doucet ’22, an elementary education and music double major and co-leader of the immigrant and refugee group. The experience also allowed students to serve virtually at a literacy center, working with immigrants learning and practicing their English.

The mission focused on wildfires reached out to those who had been forced to evacuate or lost their homes in the California wildfires, while the service group dedicated to individuals with different abilities spoke with Paddy Favazza Ph.D., about her experiences working in the special education field. The group also had the opportunity to join classes and work with special education teachers and students.

“I learned how people with different abilities often are very driven and find amazing ways to overcome the challenges they face,” says Zachary Covelle ’21, a business major and co-leader of the embracing different abilities mission. “I think WBA’s are a really great thing to do because not only do you help others, but you get to learn and grow from the experience and come back with a different view of the population you worked with.”

With a successful round of virtual missions as part of the Service and Solidarity program, Campus Ministry is looking forward to exploring more ways they can provide service virtually and still promote a call to serve within the Saint Anselm community.

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