Giving up time with family and friends to focus on those in need, 50 Misericordia University students spent their spring break on volunteer projects in underserved areas of Schenectady, New York and Washington, D. C., with Habitat for Humanity in Lakeland, Florida, and at the Young People Who Care Ministries in Frenchville. Campus Ministry and the Office of Community Outreach coordinated the four service trips.
Twelve Misericordia students and three chaperones worked as street ambassadors and provided meals at the City Mission of Schenectady, a city where the poverty rate is nearly 10 percent higher than the state average. Accompanied by chaperones Sean Farry, campus minister, Joseph Cirpriani, professor of physical therapy, and Adam Grzech, of Mountaintop, graduate student, the group helped City Mission serve 600 meals and provide shelter to more than 100 men, women and children each day. They painted and organized the City Mission Thrift Store and assisted with Weekend Blessings, a food distribution program that provides more than 800 backpacks a week filled with non-perishable food items for low-income children to take home for their weekend meals.
During the evening hours, several students walked the streets of Schenectady with City Mission Ambassadors, formerly homeless men in City Mission’s residential program who are paid by private businesses to walk the downtown area during evening hours. Businesses and visitors to Schenectady feel safer and men in the Ambassadors Program are able to earn money and build their work resume. Executive Director of City Mission Mike Saccocio has stated that Schenectady may be the only city in America where the homeless are actually paid to walk the streets.