Cresson, Pa. — A special group of Mount Aloysius College students spent their winter break in a most unusual way. Instead of relaxing and taking their laundry back home, a dozen Mounties traveled to New Rochelle, NY and took the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge. Their efforts will make this winter warmer and safer for some needy families and— as so often happens — the Holiday Season may take on a deeper meaning for the 12 Mounties and the staff members who took them on their 2017 winter service journey.
For a solid week, from sun up and past sun down, the dozen students and two Mount Aloysius staff members and a grad assistant painted houses, demolished old walls and then rebuilt sturdier ones. The group also collected donated appliances and learned about living, giving and earned a truer understanding of generosity that will make their Holiday Seasons different for years to come.
Mount Aloysius College president, Tom Foley, emphasized that service is an essential component to the student experience at Mount Aloysius. “We are delighted that our students could have the Habitat for Humanity experience,” he said. “This is a volunteer model built on deploying practical skills in a way that can change a family’s life trajectory. Our students learn that every single person can make a difference through their volunteer work. We are grateful to Habitat for the opportunity, and to our Mount Aloysius staff and student leaders who made this possible.”
Executive Director for Mission Integration and Community Outreach, Christina Koren noted that service trips are truly rewarding for college students. They get the chance to experience serving others for the greater good. “Mount Aloysius students and staff continue to volunteer for community service during this special time of year,” said Ms. Koren. It is especially heart-warming to see a call go out to the College community and watch as volunteers come pouring in during a time of year when so many people need help to meet just the basics of life.”
Brianna Baker, Mount Aloysius’ Mercy Center coordinator explained that while the College students give back to families and individuals in need; they also receive important life lessons.
“All of the students on this project worked really hard all day long,” said Ms. Baker. “They had the chance to help build a house for a family in need, and we added student-led reflections every night. The overall experience includes a spiritual component that is different for each student-volunteer. This involves discerning for themselves, why God called her or him to share their special gifts through service work like this,” Baker said.
Mount Aloysius makes community service a central tenet of student life. College President Foley noted early in his administration that the Mount Aloysius Compact was to graduate students who are job-ready, technology-ready and community-ready. The place of service — serving the community by caring for our brothers and sisters — is central to the Mount Aloysius College experience.
Last year Mount Aloysius students, faculty and staff volunteered 23,180 total service hours on 542 projects with 402 community service partners. That number will likely increase this year. The College has earned a place on the President’s Community Service Honor Roll six of the last seven times it has been awarded, and the College’s student-athletes have earned distinction for a number of specific projects and received the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference’s Gold Award for community service.
Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit organization that works toward building homes and improving residences for the needy. The organization has worked in 70 countries worldwide and Mount Aloysius is excited to partner with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge this year. Habitat does not give away free homes, but instead works alongside families to provide needed housing and end their poverty loop, which helps the overall economic prospects of the family and the community.
The students who participated in this service trip include: Zach Chirdon, Loretto, Pa.; Katey Antony, Curtisville, Pa.; Lucy Craig, Rock Stream, NY; Sarah Logan, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Morgan Buggey, Indiana, Pa.; Alex Way, Ebensburg, Pa.; Claire Kirsch, Clymer, Pa.; Veronica Scott, Hillsdale, Pa.; Lisa Fellabaum, Altoona, Pa.; Nate Smith, Lewis Run, Pa.; Harley Nelen, Dysart, Pa.; and Rachel Borst, Altoona, Pa. Mount Aloysius employees were Brianna Baker and Amy Kanich, director of campus ministry and graduate assistant Kevin Noon.
Mount Aloysius College was named by the White House as an “engine of opportunity” for low-income students in September 2015 “by contributing to mobility into the middle-class through offering an affordable education.” The College was named by U.S. News and World Report as a Best Regional College and ranked as a College of Distinction with Student Horizons for four consecutive years. Mount Aloysius has earned College of Distinction status in Nursing, Business and Education. It has also earned recognition as a Catholic College of Distinction and a Pennsylvania College of Distinction. Also designated a Military Friendly School, the College is one of only 245 in the country designated as STEMS JobsSM approved.