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Winter Break Service Trip

Kerry Madden - December 2, 2016

The Winter Service Trip to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania is somewhat of a homecoming for me. As an alumna of The University of Scranton, the Rosemont Service Immersion trip to this area with has been a way to marry two places that I love, to see the Rosemont and Scranton communities impact one another in such wonderful ways.

When I tell people that our Winter Service trip is to northeastern Pennsylvania, they often laugh. Why would anyone make an intentional choice to experience a Scranton winter? It is cold, grey, and unglamorous, yet it is gritty and tough and the students are able to see, with great clarity, the beauty of Scranton, even if it’s not pretty every day.

We begin our service with The Catherine McAuley Center founded by the Sisters of Mercy. These sisters are spunky and sweet and bring joy and a bright light to situations of homelessness and poverty every day. Here in Campus Ministry, we say that service is a mutual relationship. This means that we are not just helpers or fixers of the problems or issues we face, but rather, when we are in service, we are in relationship with one another, both giving and receiving. This relationship can be seen at the Catherine McAuley Center, where it is unclear at any moment, who is serving who.

We continue our service at the Community Intervention Center, a day shelter for individuals who need a warm, safe place to stay during the day. As you can imagine, the CIC is a popular place in the brutal Scranton winters. With the hospitality of the women at the Catherine McAuley Center fresh in our minds, we enter our service with the Community Intervention Center with the same energy the Catherine McAuley Center shared with us- and this place needs it. I have witnessed first-hand “The Power of Small” when the Rosemont group arrived. These Winter Service Trip members turned the somber atmosphere of the CIC into a community of karaoke singing, bingo playing enthusiasts excited to come in the next day and see what else we had in store for them.

We conclude with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that ignited my own personal passion for service, and without a doubt, led me to the position I hold here today as Coordinator of the Cornelian Service Corps at Rosemont. While still service, Habitat for Humanity requires more physical energy than direct service sometimes demands. It allows the team time to process, the days of service, and is a physical representation of the relationship that we are building with the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre community.

Each winter, we return to Scranton, knowing it will be a different experience each time, but one thing remains the same: the welcoming nature of the Scranton community allows us to continue to carve a second home for the Rosemont students who encounter it’s warmth, even if it’s zero degrees outside.