SMWC Students Give Back in Nashville during Fall Break

October 28th, 2013 | Betsy Wells

Students On Fall Break trip in Nashville
Students at Ronald McDonald House in Nashville, TN

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College students exhibited their true giving spirit by sacrificing their fall break to be of service to others. In the past, the alternative spring break community service trip has been a huge success. To offer SMWC students another opportunity to extend their services beyond the Terre Haute community and experience a world outside of Indiana, Campus Minister, Andrea Beyke, organized the first alternative fall break trip at SMWC. Beyke and Executive Director of Major and Planned Gifts, April Simma, traveled with the thirteen students to Nashville, Tenn. to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, Catholic Charities, and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. A Campus Ministry Grant from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis subsidized a portion of the trip.

“We began this experience by calling to mind why we serve and who calls us to serve,” stated Beyke. “We reflected on Jesus’ mission to us: Feed My Lambs. What does this mean? How can we feed lambs and tend sheep in today’s world? More specifically, how can we work to feed the lambs and tend the sheep in Nashville? This theme lasted throughout the four days of our service experience.”

The group spent Thursday morning at Nashville’s Ronald McDonald House, which serves Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Families of children in Vanderbilt’s hospital are offered free lodging, meals and a home-like atmosphere while their children receive inpatient and/or outpatient treatment.  The group was able to help the Ronald McDonald House prepare for the wintery cold and flu season by disinfecting toys, cleaning the kitchen and washing the windows.  They also helped with the landscaping to make sure the house kept its home-like ambience for guests. 

Friday morning, the group volunteered at Loaves and Fishes, Community Meals for the Hungry, a ministry of Nashville’s Catholic Charities. They spent the morning with Wendy Overlock, Program Coordinator, and Mohammad, a refugee from Syria. Catholic Charities helps refugees come to the United States and provides them with a place to work. The group helped sort clothes, clean and put together toiletry bags for the refugees and clients.

Both Saturday and Sunday, the group helped Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital set up for their “We Care for Kids Day.” This event was free to the public and was a day to rejoice in children. There were many booths that promoted health and the well-being of a child, including a variety of fun activities. The country band, Trick Pony, provided live music.

“I went on the trip because service is a wonderful thing,” states Alejandra Garcia ’16, Equine Business Management major. “My favorite part was getting to know my fellow Woodsies even more. We really came together throughout this experience.”

The students were also able to sightsee in Nashville and enjoy the culture, touring sights including the Parthenon, the Hermitage, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Grand Old Opry where they even had the opportunity to meet country legend, Neal McCoy.

“Our encounters on this service trip should only be a beginning and a trigger that initiates a life of service,” states Beyke. “We can achieve this life of service through investing in our faith, finding a supportive community and working for social justice. Hopefully the students who went on this alternative fall break trip were able to experience this firsthand and find a way to live it in daily life.”

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