Habitat for Humanity: Lafayette, Louisiana
By: Annie McCaskill '19
If someone told me when I arrived at Neumann that I would be going on two service trips before I graduate, or even involved with campus ministry in general, I would have thought they had lost all of their marbles. Four years ago, I was a first-year student from Delaware County who never traveled and wanted nothing to do with God - that all changed my third year at Neumann. I was walking through the dining hall with my friend, when I heard someone call my name. I turned around and saw Patrick. He asked my friend and I if we wanted to go on a service trip. I took the paper that had all the different trips listed on it back to my room with me. I showed my roommate, and she immediately told me that I had to apply for the service immersion trip to Guatemala. I thought she was crazy. The farthest place I have ever been was Florida. After a couple of days of thinking about it, I decided to give it a shot. I was feeling lost and felt deep down that this was going to help me get out of my rut. So after eight months of preparation (y un poco espanol), I am on a plane traveling to Guatemala, not knowing the impact the trip would have on my life.
"[I] saw God in all of the precious children [of the Valley] and people of Guatemala."
Those eight days at The Valley of the Angels Orphanage had us immersed in the culture. We attended beautiful liturgies, learned interesting and creative hair braiding styles, met the wonderful community members, witnessed some of their heart-breaking living conditions, reflected each day, but most importantly, saw God in all of the precious children and people of Guatemala. As I said before, I had lost my faith in God, but this trip helped me rediscover my faith. I cannot put into exact words how. All I can say is that I had many questions that I had answered and pain that I was carrying that was released. Guatemala opened opportunities that I never expected.
This past February, I went on my first Habitat for Humanity trip through our San Damiano Program. We traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana, another place that I had never been before and another opportunity that I never thought I would do. I had never picked up a power tool before. So, when we arrived on the job site and my first job was to help tile a floor, I was clueless. Six days and many tiles later, I once again was able to meet amazing people, experience Louisiana's culture, and try a bunch of different foods that I still cannot pronounce correctly. I was able to see God in all different ways throughout the community, just like I had in Guatemala.
To say that these experiences and getting involved in campus ministry have changed my life, is an understatement. They have opened me up to considering a year of service after I graduate in December...another opportunity I would have never considered four years ago. The only regret I have is not being involved - especially in service - earlier. I truly believe that everything happens when it is supposed to, and God wanted me to wait until my third year at Neumann University.
Habitat for Humanity: Beaufort, SC
By: Santino D'Angelo '19
Since coming to Neumann, I have had the opportunity to go on two service trips. Last summer, I traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana and this spring I was able to attend the trip in Beaufort, South Carolina. Both of the trips were serving with Habitat for Humanity. I had a great experience with Habitat. I was able to build homes for families that have not had an opportunity to live in their own house with their family. It is such a great feeling to witness the joy these families experience as we are build their future homes.
I think serving is very important and that everyone should get involved with it. Service is a time to give back to those in need and help them with their lives. College students are fortunate enough to attend go to school and earn a degree. There are others who are not able to do what we do. It is our duty to try to help make each other's lives better.
I hope to continue serving after I graduate this May. I have recently applied to ACESJU at St. Joseph's University. ACESJU is a two-year service program where if accepted, I will teach at an Indendpent Mission School in Philadelphia while earning a Master’s degree in Education.