Staff Members Share Time, Talent over Break
Reaching out to help those in need is a longstanding tradition at Duquesne for students and staff alike. Many volunteers take an “alternative spring break,” trading fun in the sun for an intensive week of direct service in a culturally diverse environment. Known as Cross Cultural Mission Experiences (CCME), these trips, sponsored by Spiritan Campus Ministry, connect volunteers with communities and people in need.
This spring, CCME teams of students, led by volunteer staff members, spent a week living and working among migrant farm workers in Immokalee, Fla., residents of Katrina-devastated New Orleans, coal-mining families in Pineville, W. Va., and the urban poor in Pittsburgh. While providing hands-on help can make an immediate impact in these distressed communities, the immersion experiences also made lasting impressions on the volunteers.
Among those volunteering were Mary McIntyre, assistant to President Charles Dougherty, along with her husband Dan, Rebecca Jamrozik, director of Greek life, and Linda Donovan, campus minister, who served as team leaders for 20 students traveling to work with Habitat for Humanity in the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. Shocked to see the neighborhood still run down after nearly five years, McIntyre said seeing the daily challenges faced by others was “humbling.”
“There is still such a great need down there,” McIntyre said. “It was difficult work, but the students stayed at it all day, stopping only to eat. It was amazing; we literally built a house. The neighbors thanked us and even clapped. That really surprised me and had a profound effect on everyone.”
Lina Dostilio, director of academic community engagement, and campus minister Fran Tarkett led a dozen young women on the Pittsburgh Plunge, an inner city tour that gave them the opportunity to listen, learn and appreciate the assets and challenges of urban settings. The team visited with teen girls and single mothers in Wilkinsburg and East Liberty, reached out to the homeless in downtown Pittsburgh and helped to organize a community clothing closet at the Hazelwood Presbyterian Church, among other projects.
“Often when we take the opportunity to participate in service projects, we think it’s all action, but really, the biggest service we can provide is learning how to enter into community, to appreciate the good work being done in our neighborhoods and to gracefully assist where we can,” Dostilio explained.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.