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New Domestic Service Trip Opens Hearts and Minds

Victoria Pennington '19, student correspondent

New Domestic Service Trip Opens Hearts and Minds
Virginia Farrell ’20 at Bean’s Café on the University’s first domestic service trip to Alaska.

Nine students and two adult chaperones traveled to Anchorage last summer, the University’s first domestic service trip to Alaska, to work with Bean’s Café and Catholic Social Services (CSS) to serve the food insecure. Bean’s Café is a day shelter that serves breakfast and lunch to the hungry and homeless. During its time in Anchorage, the service group served meals in the morning and afternoon at Bean’s Café and spent nights serving dinner, cleaning the pantry and assisting people in the grocery store at the Brother Francis Shelter.

Virginia Farrell ’20 said the trip was a transformative experience. In her reflection after the trip, she wrote: “We piled out of our vans not knowing what to expect. A homeless woman sitting outside welcomed us with a smile and spoke the words, ‘Good morning, thank you for your service.’ Suddenly, a sense of peace and love flooded our hearts.”

She said Bean’s Café exemplified the meaning of being men and women for and with others.

“By putting yourself out there, by being vulnerable to new situations, you are able to relate on a deeper level,” she said. “You hear stories that open your eyes to harsh realities. You connect through faith and love, and you stand in solidarity with one another.”

Amy Fotta, service coordinator for Campus Ministries’ Center for Service and Social Justice, said domestic service trips, in particular, are often eye-opening for people because they don’t realize how much service is needed in their own communities. “The biggest benefit is opening their hearts and minds to something new and different,” said Fotta. “Students often say, ‘Wow. I had no idea.’” She hopes to organize another service trip to Alaska for May 2020.

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