I have been given the opportunity to travel to Lafayette, Louisiana with Campus Ministry to serve with Habitat for Humanity over spring break. Service is something that is really important to me so I’m very excited to have this opportunity to not only serve in another area and experience a new culture but also form new bonds with my group members. In order to prepare for the service trip, everyone who is going on one went on a retreat the weekend before returning to campus from winter break.
On the second day of the San Damiano retreat, we went to the Padre Pio Friary in the Frankfort section of Philadelphia to serve in our local area. We gathered boxes filled with necessities for the colder weather, snacks, hot chocolate and cookies then went to three spots along Kensington Avenue. As soon as we arrived, we unloaded the van and half of us started handing out the blankets and bags with hats, scarves, socks and gloves while the other half gave out hot chocolate and cookies to those who came up. Everyone who we met was so grateful to be able to have a hot chocolate, a pair of socks, or a clean blanket, which really put into perspective the situation that they are in. I grew up not far from where we were, but I never took the time to realize what the people who lived there were going through, so I’m happy I finally had the opportunity to stop and think. So many of the people we had the chance to talk to asked if they could take an extra blanket for someone they knew who could really use one but would not have the chance to come to us and some mentioned another area that was filled with people who could really use a new pair of socks or gloves. It warmed my heart to see how thoughtful and positive everyone was, and it prompted me to rethink my own daily life.
There are times I complain about the smallest things, but I have a warm place to go when it’s cold out and I have easy access to socks and gloves, meanwhile there are people like those we met who don’t and are still so positive, grateful and kind. From today’s reading from Isaiah, the line “You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing” grabbed my attention. It reminded me of this experience serving in Philadelphia and the joy I got to see in the faces of people that we were able to help.