In addition to the array of independent volunteer opportunities available, Saint Joseph’s hosts various service trips throughout the year that are designed to challenge participants’ perceptions and put their faith in action.
International Service Trips
The annual service trips to Haiti and Guatemala, taken during semester break in January, are sponsored by Saint Joseph’s in cooperation with Partners in Development (PID) of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Every year, students and other members of the College community travel to Central America and volunteer their time to help those who need it most.
Marketing student Lauren Legere ’17 documented her experience with the annual tradition of international service to Guatemala.
For years, students, faculty, and staff from Saint Joseph’s College have volunteered in small Mayan villages in Guatemala. They provide medical aid, help to build basic cinder-block homes, distribute hundreds of pounds of donated items, and spent time simply relaxing and interacting with local families. Generally, the week also includes excursions to the Mayan ruins, the colonial capital of Antigua, and to Panajachel, a scenic village nestled on the shore of beautiful Lake Atitlan.
Students, faculty, and staff complete a week-long service trip to Haiti where they construct new houses, volunteer in a health clinic, and assist on children’s programs. Recently, one faculty member worked on an organizational handbook for the field director of the Haitian PID operation, designing training for employees and volunteers, as well as creating job descriptions for the Haitian directors.
Spring Break Workfest
For 25 years, Saint Joseph’s Spring Break Workfest has offered students an alternative to the usual beach vacation. Participants trade bathing suits for work gloves, servicing various low-income communities across the county–and learning a great deal about themselves in the process.
On a typical day at a Workfest site, students are up and out early, putting in a full day to help abused, homeless children with homework; organize clothing donations; serve in food kitchens; clean up building lots; paint rooms at a resource center for homeless teenagers; staff a Habitat for Humanity retail store – or whatever else needs to be done.
Jim Killoran ’80, who heads up Habitat for Humanity in Westchester County, New York, hosts a group of Workfest students from his alma mater every year. He shows them more than how to swing a hammer, also taking them behind the scenes to show how building community relations and support is necessary to building community housing.
This Student Government-produced video speaks to both our Mercy heritage, and how our community “Makes Mercy Real” in our daily lives at the local and global level through the work at our Mercy Center.
Each year, Saint Joseph’s Mercy Center participates in a “Midnight Run.” in connection with the Midnight Run Organization out of New York. In 1987, the Midnight Run organization was founded and has since grown into 1,000 relief missions per year. Midnight Run volunteers from churches, synagogues, schools, and other civic groups distribute food, clothing, blankets and personal care items to the homeless poor on the streets of New York City. Before we depart, SJC students make sandwiches and package up meals, sort winter clothing items donated by members of the community, and sort through and assemble packages containing toiletries. Then, Saint Joseph’s students and staff pack up the goods, drive to New York City, distribute the food and toiletries to those in need, and return to campus–all within a 24-hour period. Midnight Run is an exhausting, but thoroughly exhilarating, yearly expedition that helps build a bridge between homeless and sheltered communities by reinforcing the human connection.
Director of Mercy Center