Tuesday, June 17, 2014
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Eighteen Westminster College students and four staff members spent their spring break in Tennessee serving others through Habitat for Humanity and ReStore, a store that sells surplus building supplies and household goods to raise money for Habitat.
The students traveled to Maryville during the second week of March. They were hosted by New Providence Presbyterian Church, Pastor Steve Musick, who is on the Board of Directors for Habitat Humanity in Blount County; and Senior Pastor the Rev. Dr. Emily Anderson, a Princeton Seminary classmate of trip leader Carey Anne M. LaSor `86, assistant to the College chaplain, who has accompanied students on several mission trips.
The Westminster team, along with students from three other institutions, worked on three houses, mainly, on a street in Alcoa, Tenn., where four houses were already complete. One of the houses the team worked on was sponsored by New Providence. They also worked on prepping shed walls for the next new houses, prepping trusses for the current house sheds, rehabbing a former Habitat home for a new homeowner, and rebuilding a deck for a neighbor of the new houses. Additionally, every day about 10-12 students from all four institutions worked at ReStore.
"I often receive compliments on our students when leading these trips - from how polite and friendly they are, to how nice it is to talk to them," said Meyer-LaSor. "But I also often hear that they are hard-working, tireless, and committed, which are even better compliments. This group won the attention of our construction managers in their ability to listen to instruction and take direction. That may sound simple, but on a worksite, it is critical among many amateurs and few professionals. To say that I am proud of our students is true - I am proud of how they make good impressions for themselves and Westminster."
Student Christopher Molnar said, "I chose to go on this trip because I felt something was missing. I had been on mission trips to the Dominican Republic in high school and each one was a blast. I remembered having a great time reaching out to and getting to know the people in the Dominican. I guess I missed that feeling you get when you go out of your way to help those in need."
Molnar continued, "When I thought about how this trip strengthened my faith I thought about 1 Thessalonians 1:3, which states: ‘We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.' In my own words, I felt that we all grew in faith by providing help to those in need as Jesus did in his time on earth."
Community service among Westminster College students and staff is nothing out of the ordinary. Volunteerism and civic engagement is integral to the College's mission to apply knowledge to contemporary issues, while demonstrating moral and ethical commitments to neighbor and society, and to demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning and the acquisition of skills for careers and for responsible service as world citizens.
Westminster uses such educational methods as service-learning, in which the service is integrated into the course curriculum and requires that the students reflect on their service activity. Service learning incorporates the mission of the College in the classroom allowing students to grasp "real-life" experiences in their field of study, while meeting community needs through service. Due to this and many other activities that allow students to give back to the community Westminster has earned President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognition every year since the program was launched in 2006.
The additional institutions that participated in this year's trip include Eastern Illinois University, in Charleston; Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio; and St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. In total, 70 students worked with Blount County's Habitat for Humanity and Collegiate Challenge, a national program with Habitat International that encourages college students to volunteer during their spring break.
Westminster staff/faculty who also traveled to Tennessee include: Katie Gray, a 2011 Westminster graduate now serving as residence director in the office of student affairs; Jessica Shelenberger, adjunct instructor in English and public relations; and Bradley Weaver, broadcast and digital communications lecturer.
Contact Westminster's Chapel Office at 724-946-7117 for additional information.