Students ‘transform society’ on Winter Service Trip

Jan 14, 2016

Newman University student Wesley Williams joined Campus Ministry on a Winter Service Trip to Santa Fe, N.M., where a group of 19 students with Father John Fogliasso and Campus Ministry Administrative Assistant Monica Borger volunteered at different organizations in the community.

Williams recounts his experience below.

‘…empowering graduates to transform society.’

Those five simple words are a part of Newman University’s mission statement, and this past week I’ve experienced that first-hand.

I traveled to Santa Fe, N.M., as part of Campus Ministry’s winter service trip. The group rotated between three different locations during our week of service before touring historic locations in the state’s capitol, and then going to Angel Fire for a day of skiing and snowboarding.

Newman University students on the Winter Service Trip

The first location my group traveled to was Casa Milagro, a group home for persons with disabilities within the Santa Fe community. We helped clean the home while meeting with some of the residents. They were friendly and all extremely talented – almost all of the art in the house had been created by the residents.

The second location was Casa Familia, a women’s and family shelter which is a part of the St. Elizabeth shelter system in Santa Fe. The shelter gives women and their children a place to stay in the event of a crisis, but also expects them to get back on their feet, encouraging work and home searches. There, we repainted the dining room, organized and cleaned their kitchen and sorted through donations. While we did not meet any of the residents, we could tell that the staff were excited to have the extra help.

Father Fogliasso and students help at Habitat for Humanity in Sante Fe, N.M.

The third and final location of service was the Santa Fe Habitat for Humanity. The local branch of the national program was in the middle of constructing a home for a family of four who had recently gone through tragedy. We worked on framing the house, getting it closer to the eventual move in day.

In addition to helping build at Habitat, we met members of Santa Fe Youth Works, a program that helps troubled teens bounce back from their struggles. They were all kind and eager to work with us.

This trip touched on all of the core values of our institution – Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Culture of Service and Global Perspective. While we were all not Catholic, we had daily mass and fellowshipped together. We were able to put to use what we have learned in the classrooms at Newman. Our entire trip was centered around service — most of which was in a culture that many of us had not experienced before.

As I begin my last semester at Newman University, I can say without a doubt that this trip will be a highlight of my college career and will be one that I will remember as playing a role in my life of service, faith and leadership. It has taught me to value my God-given gifts but also to put others before myself, helping those who need it most. This trip has empowered me to transform society.