By Kim Worblewski
Viterbo students returned from a recent spring break service trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, that inspired them to grow as individuals and al¬lowed them to make a difference in people’s lives. “Students came back [from the trip] excited and wanting to change the world” said Emilio Alvarez, assistant director of Cam¬pus Ministry, who helped organize and chaperone the trip.
Thirteen students and three chaperones went on the service trip. The students worked throughout the break, as they left on Sunday, March 3 for Cincinnati and vol¬unteered from Monday, March 4 through Thursday, March 7, leaving Friday, March 8 to return home. The trip was organized by Campus Ministry and students worked with the Franciscans Sisters for the Poor.
The students volunteered for numerous nonprofit organizations around Cincinnati. Working to feed the hungry and helping out chil¬dren and adults with disabilities. They also made breakfast for peo¬ple staying at the Ronald McDonald house, an organization that assists sick children; worked at an after school program for children who have no place to go after school hours; and assisted nonprofits with painting houses.
Mixing over 600 gallons of paint to send around the world was another activity students worked on. The students aided Matthew 25 Ministries with separating paint do¬nated to the organization. The paint will be used to paint houses around the world.
The goal of the trip was to let the students “encounter a new environ¬ment” and “challenge them to see beyond their own worldviews,” Alvarez said. The students were also given the chance to “experi¬ence poverty and were challenged to be good servant leaders.”
“Throughout the week, our group served at several organizations and social service agencies throughout the area and truly was provided a culturally diverse experience,” Sara Meyer, a junior social work major, who went on the trip, said. “This trip was a wonderful opportunity for students [to] experience changes of pace, perspective, and heart.”
“I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,” Meyer said. “Since returning home, I’ve been inspired and motivated to continue serv¬ing in my community and hope that I can continue to share what I learned with others.”
Sam Homp, a senior ministry major, said that the trip was fun, but challenging. “It’s a different en¬vironment,” he said. He explained that the students had to work with each other as well as with people from the organizations to help those in need in places new and unfamil¬iar to the volunteers.
Homp said that his most memo¬rable moment from the trip was helping out kids at an inner-city after school program. “We hung out [with the kids] and tried to be a fun, positive influence,” he explained. Along with helping students with their homework assignments, volunteers participated in activi¬ties such as arts and crafts, push-up contests, playing games and free-style rap.
Homp said that his only regrets about the trip are that he wishes he could have had more interaction with those he was helping out and that he could have stayed longer to assist those in need.
Alvarez explained that Campus Ministry hopes to organize two service trips next year over Spring Break. For one of the trips, he plans on going back to Cincinnati. He also hopes to increase the number of people that can go on the trip to 25.
Michael Churchill, a sophomore nursing major, said that he is not able to travel a lot, so the oppor¬tunity to travel to a place he had never been to before was a blessing. “I wanted to give back,” he added, saying that he loves helping people out.
The service trips have been great opportunities for him to meet people as well as experience new things, Churchill said. He explained that his favorite part of the trip was when a speaker talked about how he had been homeless for two years. “It opened my eyes to the homeless world,” Churchill said, “how prominent it is and what we can do in our own community to help.”
“It’s exciting to see students see new experiences and watch them grow from it” Alvarez said of the service trips.