Guided by faith and compassion, 27th Spring Break Workfest volunteers aim to change lives across the country

SJC students will roll up their sleeves and engage in hard work to help make a difference in the lives of others during Workfest.All are invited to gather with this year’s Spring Break Workfest participants to provide support and pray with them on March 2, 2018 at 4 PM in Healy Chapel before they depart campus for their service locations. Begun in 1992 by Sr. Michele Aronica, RSM and Sister Sylvia Comer RSM, 2018 marks the 27th year of Spring Break Workfest service trips occurring over the Spring Break week and during the Lenten Season. This year, the program coincides with Saint Joseph’s Month, which will become an annual event that provides additional opportunities for engagement and connection with our Mission.

As a service and educational experience, Workfest offers hands-on opportunities to take a closer look at issues facing people and communities in particular regions of the United States. From March 4-10, 2018 Saint Joseph’s College students will volunteer with the Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky, as well as sites in Houston, New York City, and New Orleans through programs facilitated by Camp Restore and Habitat For Humanity. Some students will help restore family homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Harvey while other students will support affordable housing initiatives by helping build homes for families in need. Rooted in the Saint Joseph’s College core values of faith, compassion, and community, the goals of the program include: to raise participants’ awareness of issues facing people who are economically poor and/or marginalized in particular regions of the United States; to create an immersion experience that allows participants to discover and explore the culture, faith and lifestyles of the people in their host communities, while sharing their own gifts with those they meet; to provide a forum to explore participants’ understanding of service, justice, and spirituality; and to explore opportunities for participants to incorporate the knowledge gained through participation in Spring Break Workfest into their own lives.

SJC students volunteering during WorkfestSister Michele Aronica ’74, RSM, and Sister Sylvia Comer ’62, RSM, began this program 27 years ago with an inaugural trip to Kentucky. “What struck me,” said Sister Sylvia, “was the joy and the faith of people who had so little.” Sister Sylvia was amazed “to see what we built in just a week!”

Sister Michele added, “We came to understand some important things. First, our students are interested in service. Second, they make meaningful connections on these trips. And third, the experience changes them. They begin to see service as part of their social responsibility.”