44 Fairfield University students choose volunteering over fun in the sun for spring break


Rather than spending a week of fun in the sun, 44 Fairfield University students will be spending their spring breaks across the country volunteering and learning about urban and rural poverty. The four service trips, sponsored by Campus Ministry, are during the first week of March and will give students and adult faculty leaders the unique experience of both working and living in the communities they are serving. The destinations include a Native American reservation in Pine Ridge, S.D., the Center for Student Missions in Washington D.C., the Christian Appalachian Project in rural Kentucky, and Camp Restore in New Orleans.

In a new program for Fairfield this year, students will work with the Re-Member Organization on a Native American reservation in South Dakota, learning first hand the problems of poverty and substance abuse within Native American reservations. Senior Kristianna Sciarra, student leader of the South Dakota trip, is looking forward to the week there. When asked what she hopes to accomplish, she responded, "My hope for our group is that we can learn about the culturally rich Lakota Sioux and that we can put a smile on even one face while we are at Pine Ridge - to me, this will be the definition of a successful week."

In Washington, D.C., students will work with the Center for Student Missions, a national organization that works with student groups to provide them with a unique urban ministry experience. By immersing themselves in an urban setting like Washington D.C., the group will volunteer locally and have the opportunity to learn the causes of urban poverty.

In rural Kentucky, students will work with the Christian Appalachian Project, a non-profit Christian organization. They will take part in home repair and manual labor projects with other college students from around the country and local families to help create affordable housing in Appalachia.

Students in New Orleans will work with Camp Restore, a Christ-centered ministry working to return a sense of community to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Student leader Kristin Villanueva, a senior at Fairfield, is returning to New Orleans after a service trip there last spring. She said, "The reason I am choosing to go back to New Orleans is because I know that the city is still struggling with the rebuilding process and I want to do whatever I can to help."

Each student group, which meets weekly to discuss the challenges of their upcoming trip, is working on their own fundraising projects. The students are asked to write personal letters to friends and family asking for help in raising money, giving them a taste of what it is like to ask for the help that they will give during their week of service.

Any money that is raised beyond the amount needed for the trips is divided and donated to the four sites. Last spring, the groups were able to leave $500 to each of the projects in which they worked.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 12, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 218