Emmanuel College students seek ‘Alternative Spring Break’

BOSTON -- A number of Emmanuel College students recently spent their spring break volunteering their services all over the country. As part of the school’s Alternative Spring Break program, 49 students, faculty and staff members traveled to New Orleans, La., Phoenix, Ariz., and surrounding areas of Boston to provide assistance to those in need.

The service trip to New Orleans marked the program’s first official visit to the city, after a number of students traveled there last May with Sister Mary Johnson, SND as part of her “Catholic Social Teaching” course, to assist the Sisters of the Holy Family with relief work. Due to resounding interest from many students to further aid the cause, the college offered the opportunity to once again help the sisters, an African American Congregation of Pontifical Status that centers on educating youth and caring for the aged, the poor and the most abject of society. Volunteers spent the week living and working with the sisters who operate two independent facilities for low-income senior citizens in the city assisting them with their continued work for the victims of Hurricane Katrina as well as touring New Orleans.

“I believe that the Sisters of the Holy Family, this group from Emmanuel and myself can make changes in the lives of many there,” said junior Mark Harrington. “Even if it’s a small change, to affect the lives of others always leaves you warm-hearted.”

While Harrington and his groupmates worked hard down south, another group of Emmanuel volunteers once again provided service in Phoenix, Ariz. with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay organization, and the Andre House, a non-profit organization sponsored by the priests and brothers of Holy Cross from the University of Notre Dame. This spring marked the fifth anniversary of the college’s relationship with the Arizona foundations, which allows students to assist the organization’s staffs with a variety of daily tasks.

Two Emmanuel students also stayed close to home during the week of March 5 and provided a helping hand to local Boston communities as well. Freshman Susanna Derby and junior Samantha Scola were two of 14 students from the Colleges of the Fenway (COF) who participated in the inaugural Boston Immersion Alternative Spring Break, organized by the COF Civic Engagement Committee to allow students an opportunity to spend their break learning about, connecting with, and taking positive action in Roxbury and Mission Hill.

Throughout the week, Derby, Scola and the rest of the student volunteers worked with Roxbury Youth Programs and Sociedad Latina, a Mission Hill-based organization that provides a comprehensive, community-responsive array of programs designed to empower Latino youth and their families. When they were not volunteering their time with these programs, the students spent time learning about the history and demographics of Boston, Roxbury and Mission Hill, as well as participating in panels, discussions and meetings with city and community leaders.