MISERICORDIA UNIVERSITY STUDENTS Sarah Ashford, Wapwallopen, and Jillian Dunn, Ashley, mix together donated cans of left over paint to create enough new paint to cover the interiors of 132 houses as part of their service work for the Franciscans of the Poor in Cincinnati, Ohio.

As  government  entities  deal  with  the

 impact  of  the  federal  budget  sequestration  cuts  on  community  and  social

 service  agencies  across  the  country,  the  concern  level  has  been  raised

 for  people  who  need  those  services  the  most  – the  homeless,  poor

 and  underprivileged.  Focusing  their  volunteer  efforts  on  those  most  in

 need,  64  Misericordia  University  students  spent  their  spring  break  on  volunteer

 projects  in  some  of  the  most  underserved  areas  of  Alabama,  New  York,  Ohio  and  Pennsylvania,  and

 on  a  mission  to  assist  the  Sisters  of

 Mercy  on  a  self-sustaining  farm  in  Vermont.  

Following  in  a  long  tradition  of  servant

 leaders,  the  five  groups  provided  a  wide  range  of  services  to  people

 from  all  walks  of  life  and  all  different  ages,  yet  collectively  felt  that

 they  were  the  ones  who  gained  the  most  from  the  experience.   

Students  Sarah  Ashford,  Wapwallopen,  and  Katie  O’Hearn,  Scranton,

 were  on  a  team  of  12  students  and  two  chaperones  who  assisted  with  after-school  sessions  for

 low-income  students  and  worked  at  Choice  CAIN  (Churches  Active  in  the

 North),  two  programs  operated  by

 the  Franciscans  for  the  Poor  in  Cincinnati,  Ohio.  Choice  CAIN  includes  a  food  pantry  arranged  much  like

 a  store,  where  the  clients  are  able  to  choose  the  items  they  need.  It

 also  offers  a  “Birthday  Closet”  where  people  can  select  a  present  for

 a  member  of  their  family.  The  students  also  assisted  at  the  Matthew  25

 Donation  Center  in  Cincinnati  where,  among  many  jobs,  they  mixed  together

 hundreds  of  cans  of  leftover  paint.  The  messy  process  resulted  in  the

 creation  of  enough  new  paint  to  cover  the  interior  of  132  houses.  

“What  I  learned  is  that  the  people  we  were  serving  are  not  homeless

 people  but  people  experiencing  homelessness,  there’s  a

 big  difference,”  says  Ashford,  who  will  earn  her  Doctor  of  Physical  Therapy

 degree  in  December  2014.  “

Homelessness  is  a  stage  in  their  lives  that  they  can  move  past  with  the  right  help.  I  am  proud  to  be  a  part  of  that.”

A  family  of  eight  refugees  from  Africa

 has  a  new  home  thanks  to  the  work  of  24  MU  students  and  three  chaperones

 who  spent  their  spring  break  helping  to  complete  a  Habitat  for

 Humanity  home  in  Mobile,  Ala.  Both  Caitlin  Vitale,  a  sophomore  speech-

language  pathology  major  from  West  Pittston,  and  Adam  Grzech,

 a  senior  accounting  major  from  Mountain  Top,  on  his  third  service

 trip  with  Misericordia,  say  they  were  most  proud  of  the  spirit  de

 corps  that  developed  within  their  group  and  what  they  were  able  to  accomplish

 together.   “We  were  able  to  give  the  people  a

 house,  and  that  was  nice  ...  but  they  gave  us  so  much  more,”  adds  Grzech.

 “I  was  amazed  at  how  our  students  worked  together  as  a  group  as

 compared  to  others  we  saw  in  action  there.  We  were  all  changed  with

 the  realization  that  the  adage  is  true,  ‘I  alone  can  change  the  world.’”

The  can-do  attitude  was  equally  prevalent  with  the  seven  Misericordia  students

 and  two  chaperones  who  traveled  to  Benson,  Vt.,  to  serve  at  Mercy

 Farm,  a  working  farm  and  eco-spiritual  center  operated  by  the

 Sisters  of  Mercy  on  the  New   York-Vermont  border.  The  produce  from  the  gardens  supports  the  farm  community.

 For  more  information  about  Misericordia

 University,  please  call  ( 570)  674-6400  or  log  on  to Founded  and  Sponsored


 by  the  Sisters  of  Mercy  in  1924,  Misericordia  University  is  Luzerne  County’s  first  four-year  college

 and  offers  36  academic  programs  on  the  graduate  and  undergraduate

 levels  in  full  and  part-time  formats.