June 10, 2013

Young Alumni Visit New Orleans for 2nd Annual Service Trip

During the week of May 20th, 12 alumni from the Classes of 2006-2013 traveled to New Orleans, La., as part of a service trip sponsored by Emmanuel's Center for Mission Engagement.

The Young Alumni Service Trip was established in 2012 in response to a survey conducted by the College's Office of Development and Alumni Relations that reported interest by young alumni in continuing to stay connected with Emmanuel through service. Though only 12 spaces are available each year, more than 30 students applied to take part in the 2013 trip, said Mark Harrington '08, associate director of the Center for Mission Engagement.

"I believe this service-immersion experience gives young alumni an opportunity to continue Emmanuel's longstanding commitment and tradition of serving the community," said Harrington. "I hope to continue the program moving forward and have all 12 spots filled every year."

Including Harrington, this year's participants were Mimi Kelly '06, Migdalia Gomez '07, Samantha Sokoloski '10, Caitlyn Kelly '10, Elizabeth Humphries '10, Jon Ahern '11, Amanda Shadlick '11, Greg Galizio '12, Kate Hope '13, Christine Cuddemi '13 and Kara Moras '13. Sister Diane Roche, RSCJ '71, hosted the group at the Duchesne Volunteer House, a Society of the Sacred Heart-sponsored project that offers a cultural immersion and reflection program for volunteers who travel to the area for service in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Liz Humphries '10, who currently works as a resident director at Loyola University Chicago, participated in Alternative Spring Break, worked with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and took service-learning courses during her time at Emmanuel, and enjoyed reconnecting with former classmates and continuing the work of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SND) that she began as a student.

"I feel that we as Emmanuel alumni have a connection with each other and should maintain those values and share them with others through various acts of service," she said. "For me, the values and lessons I learned at Emmanuel have helped develop me into the person I am today and I find it only fitting to give back in the name of something that has given me so much." 

During the week, the group volunteered with the St. Bernard Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to remove physical, mental and emotional barriers for vulnerable families, senior citizens and disabled residents who continue to struggle with the devastation and trauma caused by the 2005 hurricane.

Emmanuel also partnered with the organization as part of its Alternative Spring Break program this past March.

The group also had the chance to explore New Orleans, taking part in various tours and sightseeing adventures during its stay, including a tour of St. Louis Cathedral, a visit to the exhibit "Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond" at Louisiana's state museum, The Presbytère, an educational presentation at the New Canal Lighthouse by the Lake Ponchartrain Basin Foundation on the environmental effects of Hurricane Katrina and a visit with the chief of one of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes, who showed them his handmade Mardi Gras costumes.

"The trip was amazing," said Migdalia Gomez '07, associate director of student financial services at Emmanuel. "The days were long and busy, but they were filled with laughter, hard work and great energy. We all clicked and had a great time while doing service and learning about New Orleans and the people.

"Being able to volunteer with the Emmanuel community is amazing since we all share the passion to do service. We are all in this world together and it's our responsibility to help each other."