By Regina Stracqualursi ’15
Instead of going on vacation or relaxing at home this spring break, one group of students carried out Siena College’s Franciscan and Catholic mission by traveling to Philadelphia to serve the poorest members of the community.
Each spring, Siena College sends students to the “City of Brotherly Love” to help people facing homelessness and poverty at the St. Francis Inn, a ministry that has been serving its local community since 1979.
For one week, the students stayed together in a guesthouse located just a few doors down from the Inn. They spent each day working at one of several ministries, including the St. Francis Inn, the St. Francis Urban Center, the St. Benedict’s Thrift Store and the Thea Bowman Women’s Center.
While students spent time in various places, the main focus of each day was preparing a meal to be served “restaurant style” to the Inn’s guests. On this trip, students learned the difference between simply donating food to the poor and serving those in need with empathy, dignity, and respect.
“You learn so much about acceptance, love and service and meet the most incredible people,” said biology major Helene Rached ’15. “The Inn is a great place that teaches you just how important it is to pass as little judgment as you can and how far a helping hand can go.”
“I decided to go on the trip in order to serve the community in Philadelphia and help other people have a great service experience,” said Blackwood. “I would absolutely recommend this trip to anyone who wants to help other people.”
Sponsored by the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy, service immersion trips such as this one give students the opportunity to learn what it means to serve others while simultaneously growing individually and gaining a deeper understanding of what Siena’s heritage stands for.
Several different service trips are offered each year during the winter and spring breaks, along with the weeks following commencement.