College Life Begins One Week Early for Group of Dedicated Volunteers
Since 2006, the Dorothy Day Program has offered first-year students an opportunity to participate in community service projects affiliated with the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The program is named for Dorothy Day, a Catholic woman who served the poor by providing food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, and hospitality to all. In keeping with the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph of "uniting neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God without distinction," the Dorothy Day Program provides service to the local community while promoting the mission of the college in educating creative, reflective, and principled learners who will carry on a legacy of service in the future.
This year's Dorothy Day participants arrived on campus Sunday, August 26, one week earlier than the rest of the freshman class. After moving into their dorm rooms, they were assigned to one of five sites for the week: Homework House in Holyoke, Gray House in Springfield, SEED Program at Mont Marie in Holyoke, or the Open Pantry Teen Living Program or Open Pantry Emergency Food Pantry, both in Springfield. They spent each day cleaning and painting, weeding and landscaping, sorting and distributing food, and feeding and caring for children.
The evenings allowed time for the students to gather as a group and reflect on the day's work, the group dynamics, and each individual's personal life experiences.
"This program provides an in-depth experience for incoming freshmen," said Carol Allan, SSJ, M.A.T., director of campus ministry. "From the works they perform and the sharing of their hearts to the evening activities, the Dorothy Day experience gives the students a chance to know God, know each other, and know themselves. They are amazing students, doing amazing work."
Since its inception, the program has grown from six students to as many as 56; from one site to five sites. Students have worked in cleaning and painting classrooms, weeding and landscaping the Sisters of St. Joseph property, readying a site for a new academic school year, assembling bookcases, desks, and tables, setting up a new playground, as well as performing a variety of other tasks.
Kelly Clougherty '16 is a nursing major and basketball player from Shrewsbury. "I really enjoyed working at Open Pantry Emergency Food Pantry this week," Kelly said. "Everything we did made a difference-from sorting and organizing food on shelves to handing it out to people in need. I had a chance to talk to some of the clients, and it made me realize how blessed I am. I know this experience has made a lasting effect on me as a person but also on me as a future nurse."