Students Forgo Winter Break to Engage in Meaningful Volunteer Efforts
During the month-long winter break, Assumption students participated in weeklong service immersion trips providing them the opportunity to serve those in the greatest of need while growing spiritually and personally. The SEND Immersion Program instills in students a desire to use one’s gifts and knowledge to impact the community, a cornerstone of the Assumption mission.
Through Assumption’s SEND Service Immersion Program, nearly four dozen students traveled to Baltimore, MD; Camden, NJ; Trenton, NJ; Tuscaloosa, AL; and Washington, D.C. in December and January to volunteer with a variety of organizations, including Catholic Charities, FaithJustice, Habitat for Humanity, L’Arche, and Romero Center Ministries. During 11 trips offered throughout the year, students—accompanied by faculty, staff or alumni—make a meaningful difference in the communities in which they serve by working and volunteering alongside fellow students.
“Community service is a cornerstone of the Assumption mission and the many students who embrace this experience have an array of opportunities to serve those in the greatest of need,” said Vinnie Sullivan-Jacques, assistant director of Campus Ministry and director of volunteer organization and communication engagement. “Through these SEND trips, students are given the chance to see first-hand the struggles faced by many throughout the country and use their gifts and talents to better the lives of others. Students learn the meaning of a relationship-based approach to serving communities.”
In Baltimore, students served at the Urban Plunge Retreat, through which Catholic Charities provided students with an opportunity to provide care and services to those facing housing insecurity. Throughout the week, students served meals in a soup kitchen and spent time with individuals at an emergency shelter. According to Maddie Lawlor ’20, the students also learned to appreciate and respect the dignity in all. “It was amazing to meet people of different backgrounds, experiences, and ages and empathize with their struggles,” she said. “It really showed me the importance of compassion when it comes to service and forming relationships.”
For the ninth consecutive year, Assumption students traveled to Tuscaloosa to support the community’s ongoing efforts to rebuild after a tornado devastated the region in 2011. They partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build a home and also spent time immersing themselves in the historic culture of Alabama.
Three other groups spent time working with a variety of individuals and local nonprofits. In Camden, students served at an urban retreat and social justice education center, and formed bridges of understanding while volunteering with a variety of organizations. At L’ Arche in Washington, D.C., students worked with individuals who reside in the nonprofits four communal homes, as well as the organization's 16 members who have intellectual disabilities. And students who traveled to Trenton participated in a retreat facilitated by the organization FaithJustice, in which they spent time volunteering at Carolyn Stokes Preschool, Sprout University, TASK, and Visitation Home.
Jaclyn Smith ’20 has participated in SEND trips since her first year at Assumption and served as the trip leader in Trenton this winter break, which she said strengthened her leadership skills. “SEND trips have given me the opportunity to practice what I have learned in the classroom … [and] have also given me the opportunity to grow stronger in my faith and make friendships with people I didn't even know prior to the SEND trips,” she said, adding that the people she met through the service projects in Trenton have taught her to never lose faith in the hard times.
“I truly believe my SEND trip changed me and the way I looked at the world and the different types of people in the world,” she said. “It is so easy to judge people just by where they live but by attending SEND trips it has taught me truly never judge a person by the city they live in.”
In addition to winter break, students also have the opportunity to participate in week-long SEND trips as part of an alternative spring break in March or during summer break.
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