Alternative Winter Break
Students Serve Needy in New Orleans, Massachusetts
Providence, R.I.--For some college students, winter break may mean staying up late and sleeping the day away.
For numerous Providence College students and campus minister Rich Lumley, however, winter break is a time to volunteer and give back. That’s why from January 7-14, two student groups will travel to different parts of the country in order to serve those in need.
The NOLA Immersion 2012 trip, a mainstay alternative break experience held for the past four years, is a faith-based service trip in response to the needs of post-Katrina New Orleans. It aids the local community while exposing students to the faith, food, and culture of the Gulf Coast.
The 15 participants will spend their time interacting with multiple service groups and agencies in the area, including Green Light New Orleans (GLNO), the Harry Tompson Center, Orleans Public Defenders, and Beacon of Hope.
GLNO, a non-profit organization dedicated to replacing outdated fluorescent bulbs with energy-efficient incandescent bulbs, has worked with previous NOLA Immersion groups and is always a highlight of the trip, according to Gail Berkowitz, campus minister and a participant on NOLA Immersion 2011.
“We worked with GLNO last year, and they were a great team to be a part of. Going into people’s homes and changing out their bulbs to save energy and money, and hearing their stories of survival and re-birth was a remarkable experience,” she said.
In addition to their service initiatives, the 14 students and Lumley will have the opportunity to visit historic Preservation Hall, take in coffee at Café du Monde, watch the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets play, and dine with PC alumnus and New Orleans resident Leonard Alsfeld ’74.
“Beyond the direct service work on the trip, there are a range of opportunities to learn about the vibrant culture of New Orleans,” said Lumley. “This is definitely a great strength of the NOLA Immersion. It’s always fun to listen to jazz at Preservation Hall and enjoy the delicious food of New Orleans.”
Students participating in NOLA Immersion 2012 are: Marc Capuano ’12 (East Greenwich, R.I.), Gabrielle Carbone ’13 (Bellerose, N.Y.), Emily Corr ’13 (Commack, N.Y.), Katie D’Ascenzo ’13 (Fairfield, Conn.), Nate Hogg ’12 (Norwich, Conn.), Genevieve Ilg ’14 (Bloomfield, N.J.), Ben Mandeville ’13 (North Scituate, R.I.), Mike McDevitt ’13 (East Greenwich, R.I.), Meghan McInnis ’14 (Northborough, Mass.), Katie Milaschewski ’13 (Beverly, Mass.), Tom Nailor ’12 (New Canaan, Conn.), Ryan Paranal ’13 (Manalapan, N.J.), Kathleen Reside ’12 (Pennington, N.J.), and Julia Tully ’12 (Ardmore, Pa.).
Messengers of faith
Four other PC students will participate in the 2012 Urban Plunge program, a unique learning initiative offered through My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). A non-profit organization located in Easton, Mass., MBK delivers food and furniture to families in need. This is the third year that PC students will participate in Urban Plunge, which includes students from the University of Notre Dame and Stonehill College.
In addition to delivering needed items, students will participate in Mass in the morning, prayer services interspersed throughout the day, guest lectures, and group reflection.
According to MBK, volunteers give out a crucifix--at each delivery--with the words, “We’re just the delivery people, this is the man who sent you the furniture,” on the back. It is this belief that has helped to shape the mentality of volunteers with MBK as messengers of faith spreading fellowship and goodwill.
“MBK is a wonderful organization that holds itself to high standards and is very intentional about the work it does. The Urban Plunge continues to be a powerful experience for student participants, many of whom continue to volunteer for MBK afterwards,” said Lumley.
Students participating in the 2012 Urban Plunge program are: Colleen Reilly ’12 (East Sandwich, Mass.), Colleen Lentz ’14 (Westwood, Mass.), Mairead Kean ’14 (West Roxbury, Mass.), and Kaitlin Bischoff ’14 (Meriden, Conn.).
--Robbie Smith-MacDonald ’12