Think of college spring break and images of beaches and parties come to mind. But for 18 students from two Pennsylvania colleges, spring break March 2015 meant preparing food for Pittsburgh’s homeless community, and bringing joy to people with disabilities.
Eight students from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre and ten students from Marywood College in Scranton spent their spring break volunteering through a weeklong alternative spring break trips program sponsored by the Change A Heart Franciscan Volunteer Program of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. Change A Heart’s primary program gives young adults the opportunity to learn more about the Franciscan way of life while serving adults and children in need at more than 40 social service organizations over a one year period.
Along with serving adults and children in need, the eight King’s College students used their technology skills to rebuild computers from parts salvaged from old computers. Non-profit organizations in the Pittsburgh area received the recycled machines.
The group also served at Casa San Jose, a community resource center sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, that welcomes Latino immigrants to their Pittsburgh neighborhoods and links them with service providers and other resources to advance their integration.
Here, volunteers met Change A Heart volunteer program member Tracy Medrano and helped her care for children in the afterschool program.
“This week has been extremely and genuinely amazing,” said one King’s College student. “As we went through the week and helped out with various organizations, it seems that we took away so much more than we put in.”
The students from Marywood College spent the week of March 7 at the sisters’ Mount Alvernia campus. Caring for nature was a unique component of their week as they helped beautify the land in Pittsburgh’s downtown and community parks.
“This week, I did not just change people’s lives, they changed mine,” exclaimed a student from Marywood College. “Everything we did was an eye opening experience. Each person I met brought more understanding and brought me closer to God. … A piece of my heart will always be left in Pittsburgh.”
Kings College Photo (right)
Row one, from left: Minnie Novas, student leader, Alex Russo, Ellie Cabrera, Max Rodrigues
Row two, from left: Maria Glenn, staff leader; Michael Cipriani; Jessica Lange; Spoorthy Challa; Brittany Czerniakowski, student leader
Row three, from left: Father Chase Pepper, staff leader
Marywood University Photo (left)
Row one, from left: Alyssa Wood, Jackie Martilla
Row two, from left: Gina Morgese, Deanna Cavallaro, Danielle Plunkett
Row three, from left: Veronica Smith; Christopher Morrison; Kelsey Deem; Joseph Mauceri; Mary Roche, staff; Quintin Klenchik; Katie Cicilioni, staff