Spring break is exercise in service for SAU students

Carrying a bridge to its destination in David, Ky., are from left, St. Ambrose University student Miles Chiotti, University of Notre Dame student David Mezzanotte and St. Ambrose students David Cahill, Mark Waitkus and Joe Norris.

For more than 20 consecutive years, students of St. Ambrose University in Davenport have spent spring break in David, Ky., at an alternative school. Two of the 16 students who attended the trip this year were sisters Aileen Mooney, a junior, and Alison Mooney, a freshman.

This is their personal account of the trip:

This service trip was different from other experiences we have had serving. We have both been very involved in service throughout our lives and if there is one thing we have learned it’s that no experience will necessarily shadow another.

Every opportunity for service is different. In Kentucky, we realized differences between types of service. There is charity and there is social justice. These are considered the “two feet of service.” Charity can be described as meeting an immediate need, while justice is making changes and realizing why there is a need for charity to begin with.

While we were in David, Ky., we engaged in a unique experience with the people. David, a town in Floyd County, is located in the Appalachian region that was once run by coal companies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2007 about 33 percent of the people in Floyd County were below the poverty line.

While at the David School, we had the opportunity to perform hands-on work inside the school as well as outdoors. We also were able to interact with the students by shadowing them. The students not only work academically toward graduating, but also are  involved in community service. While we were there, David students worked on highway clean up. The David School also instills Christian values in its education program by students and teachers engaging in prayer before meals.

In David, we found that we were giving more than charity. It is part of the St. Ambrose University mission to enrich the lives of others, and as a group we did just that.

However,  what  we received in return has enriched our lives more than we could ever have enriched the lives of those in David. We bonded with them over that week and they gave us a lifetime of memories. They have made us want to keep on giving.

After leaving David, many of us have found clarity in our lives we seemed to have been searching for. It is so easy to get caught up in the life of a college student.

Between clubs, organizations, work and studying we tend to forget the things that truly fuel our lives. It is service, sacrifice and love for one another that gets us through and, in leaving David, we have found  how important social justice is.

For more information on David School, visit the Web site www.DavidSchool.org.

Presence of God was evident in social service project

Maria Rollins, St. Ambrose University class of 2010, reflects on a spring break service project:

A group of seven Ambrosians from St. Ambrose University in Davenport spent a week in East St. Louis, Ill., volunteering with Catholic Urban Programs.  Abbreviated as CUP and associated with the St. Vincent de Paul society, Catholic Urban Programs works throughout East Saint Louis to provide assistance to people young and old.

The St. Ambrose students stayed at the Joe Hubbard House. The house is named after Joe Hubbard, whose vision and positive ideas helped form CUP into what it is today. The program diversifies to help all of those in need, by providing such services as a thrift store and a soup kitchen that is open six days a week to the community.

The group also worked with the Paulyn House, Continuum of Life Care Center, an organization that offers services such as counseling, showering, laundry facilities and medical exams. The St. Ambrose students got the opportunity to go on “Homeless Patrol,” where they took lunches they had made and drove around East Saint Louis handing them out to those in need. In addition to food, the Paulyn House hands out bus tickets and clothing essentials such as socks and winter wear.

In addition to volunteering with adult programs, the Ambrosians spent time in the Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School and with Roosevelt After School Programs. The college students learned as much as they taught. The students of East Saint Louis thrive on the positive influences volunteers provide.

We volunteers learned about the city and, more importantly, about the people. The presence of God couldn’t have been more evident — in the people of East St. Louis and those working to help. 

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