As a high school student Benjamin Craig's motto was, "Here's my plate, load it on." He brought that mentality with him to Emmanuel, where he has always been ready to take on a new opportunity.
Over 50 members of the Emmanuel community participated in this year's Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, which sent groups of students and staff to service sites in New Orleans, Houston, Phoenix and Boston during the week of March 4th.
During the weeklong service trip, ASB participants worked to confront issues that are especially prevalent in their respective service locations, namely hunger, food injustice, homelessness, environmental concerns, rebuilding after natural disaster and more, and joined in group reflection in the evenings.
"I feel an overwhelming sense of pride, both as an alumna of Emmanuel and a current staff member, witnessing the students' unwavering compassion, dedication, and genuine kindness for others and for each other," said Danielle Rose, project manager and community service coordinator for the Office of Mission & Ministry.
A 2016 graduate, Rose has participated in ASB four times overall, serving as a participant in 2014, as a student leader in 2015 and 2016, and this year as a staff member.
"Alternative Spring Break is meaningful in so many ways, from serving our neighbors and becoming more educated about our society to forming bonds with those alongside us," Rose said. "The greatest aspect is seeing members of the Emmanuel community come together and create positive change, while utilizing our invaluable education and the virtues that are instilled in us each day on campus."
The New Orleans group spent the week working with SBP (formerly the St. Bernard Project), a nonprofit that helps to rebuild the homes of low- to moderate-income residents (with a special focus on senior citizens, veterans, people with disabilities and families with children) still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The organization has rebuilt nearly 700 homes for residents in the New Orleans area since 2006.
The Houston group also worked with SBP in their Houston office, where the organization has been working long-term recovery operations after Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
For the 17th-consecutive year, the Phoenix group served at Andre House, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the Priests and Brothers of Holy Cross from the University of Notre Dame that serves the poor and homeless, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), a Catholic lay organization. SVdP recently opened a two-acre urban farm that produces hundreds of pounds of produce for their kitchen and food box program.
Emmanuel hosted the Boston ASB at the College's Notre Dame Campus in the Fort Point/Highland Park neighborhood. For the seventh year, the group focused on food justice, which seeks to ensure that the benefits and risks of where, what and how food is grown, produced, transported, distributed, accessed and eaten are shared fairly.
During the week, the group served at the Greater Boston Food Bank, Rosie's Place, Daily Table, St. Francis House, the Food Project, Pine Street Inn and more. They also worked with students from nearby OLPH Mission Grammar School, planting seeds in the greenhouse on the main campus, which will be transported to the Notre Dame Campus urban garden.