CJ Davidson | Staff writer | email@example.com
This Spring break, St. Michael’s Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE) program sponsored service trips to New Orleans, L.A., Long Island, N.Y., and Hartford, Conn. While on these trips students worked with different organizations like Habitat for Humanity to help with issues like food insecurity and homelessness.
The MOVE program at St. Michael’s College is an organization that seeks to support and build relationships with the underserved local communities (with a particular focus on the city of Winooski) through service and advocacy. Catholic social teaching and Edmundites history of volunteer work in the Deep South influences the key mission of MOVE. Domestic service trips first were created as Alternative Break Programs, for students who wanted to do service over winter break, spring break, or after commencement starting in 1986. Since then MOVE has created several service partnerships throughout the country.
The purpose of these trips is to provide time and energy to those overlooked, but also to grow personally as well. It is MOVE’s hope that participants will be instilled with sensitivity and respect for new cultures and populations as well as a continued passion for advocating for social justice upon return. These service trips allow students to experience a world outside of what they are used to and help make a difference in communities that are struggling.
Vicky Castillo, assistant director of MOVE, was the staff leader for the Hartford trip. The trip served alongside staff and volunteers of four community partner organizations: House of Bread, St. Elizabeth’s House of Mercy Housing and Shelter Corporation, ImmaCare, and Alfred E. Burr Middle School. , “We did a huge variety of work with those different community partners, Castillo said. “At House of Bread & St. Elizabeth’s House, we worked alongside chefs to prepare and serve breakfast & dinner to people experiencing homelessness or low-income circumstances.” They also served dinner to the men staying at ImmaCare, a temporary living facility for those experiencing homelessness, and engaged in conversation with the men. “At Alfred E. Burr School, we built connections and participated in activities with sixth , seventh , and eighth graders in the afterschool Youth Development Program,” Castillo said.
On these trips, the groups work long hours to reach the communities needs and try to make an impact. Although tiring, Castillo also said she was happy with the result. “This trip taught me to look at the systemic issue of homelessness through so many lenses and broadened my perspectives immensely,” Castillo said. “I find myself carrying this perspective with me as I interact with people experiencing homelessness and organizations that address homelessness in the greater Burlington area. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this experience.”
Kylee Legg ’25 had similar takeaways from the Hartford trip. “Being able to be fully immersed into a community like Hartford and working with folks experiencing homelessness was incredible,” Legg said. “Being able to interact with not only the folks we were serving food to, but also the folks who run the nonprofits was really interesting and offered a really great perspective to some behind the scenes action.”
For the Long Island trip, the group worked with homeless populations, as well as around 40 men who were in rehab. Along with this, Emma Gooley ’23, another student who went on the trip, said “Participants got options to spend time at different buildings, and lots of them truly enjoyed the Monfort house which is for teenagers who have been placed in the court system, they got to spend time with them, help them with their homework, etc. We also got to sit in on AA meetings and group meetings at Hope House.” They got to bond with the different groups at Hope House along with that, all service trip members participated in daily group reflections where they were able to share their own personal experiences, which was very helpful to understand each other and what the trip meant to them. The biggest take away from Gooley was “‘we are all good people who made bad decisions’”. This was something many of the men said to us and I think it is very powerful as addiction is looked at as people are just bad, however these men showed such strength and perseverance to wake up every day and continue to fight for themselves, to better themselves and become the men they want to be.”
With the help of the MOVE program, these students and staff workers faced new experiences helping the communities. MOVE service trips bring their atmosphere to other parts of the country, by helping others while they are learning about new cultures.