Walsh Students Dedicate Their Spring Break to Service


School News

Thoughts of "spring break" bring to mind images of beaches, relaxing with friends and leisurely days spent enjoying time away from school. But for several Walsh students, spring break became a week to dedicate to service.

Walsh University’s initiatives were featured in a recent article by the National Catholic Register: Catholic College Students Find Joy in Spring break Service Trips.

The Blouin Leaders in Social Justice spent their 2016 spring break in New York City volunteering with the Women’s Mental Health Shelter at Park Avenue Armory, the Catholic Worker and Youth Action YouthBuild at East Harlem.

At the Women’s Mental Health Shelter, the students led the women in a craft and then took a group of 20 to the Central Park Zoo. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the students spent their time serving at the Catholic Worker, which offered the Blouin Leaders an opportunity to connect their service work directly to Walsh University’s Catholic faith.

On Thursday, the group visited the Youth Action YouthBuild at East Harlem, which is similar to Canton’s Project Rebuild. Walsh students were involved in various service building projects with the YouthBuild participants that were related to sustainability and green housing energy efficiency. The two groups also organized a t-shirt swap, with the 35 YouthBuild members exchanging their logo t-shirts for the Walsh students’ Cavalier shirts.  

The Blouin Leaders included students MaKenzi Midcap, MacKenzie Bitzel, Michaela Caspard, Alyssa Brown, CiCi Doranado and Caitlin Kohler. The six students were joined on the trip by Director of Service Learning Dr. Stacey Gardner-Buckshaw, Hall Coordinator Jennifer Vrobel, Vice Chair of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dr. Jo Anna Kelly and Chair of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dr. Penny Bove.

"Our students had the opportunity to see what service looks like in one of the biggest cities of the world. This year’s trip really complements the trip they took last year to Heifer International," said Dr. Gardner-Buckshaw. "Last year they learned about world poverty and studied communities that have little food and water access. This year they got a view of what poverty looks like in the city, where people in need really should have plenty of access, but they don’t. Those barriers to access can range from economic to mental health, or be the result of other social challenges."

In Search of Clean Sources of Water: Campus Ministry Volunteers in Appalachia

Campus Minister Dominica Rhein also led a group of seven students on a Spring Break Immersion Experience from March 6-11 to Cumberland, Kentucky, in the Appalachia part of the country. Each year, Campus Ministry organizes a week-long service immersion experience for students in various parts of the country. For 2016, Walsh teamed with the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown and Deacon Randy Smith to travel to Cumberland. The students who participated in the trip included Lydia Betsa, Emma Hoffman, Laura Long, Erin Loomis, Abigail Martin, Taylor Martin, and Moira Ziemba. 

The Campus Ministry group made a more personal connection with the residents of their service location during this year’s project. The students spent their time in Kentucky in preparation for summer projects by engaging in conversations and meeting with people in the community, including the Mayor of Cumberland. Due to mountaintop removal and other mining techniques in the area, the water sources in Cumberland have become highly polluted, with residents relying on pipes for their water. Unfortunately, the pipes can freeze and result in people having to go without water. Walsh’s students were able to research and gather information for future hands-on projects to help resolve the issues they uncovered and raise awareness of the problems facing the Cumberland community. The students also helped to clean litter and garbage out of the creek that supplies most of Cumberland's water.

Math and Science Students Return to the Classroom for Break

Eighteen science students also volunteered locally in Stark County and dedicated two days of their break to teaching Habitats and Ohio Trees at Hartville Elementary and Uniontown Elementary on March 10 and 11. The student volunteers were recruited from Sigma Zeta Science and Math Honor Society, General Biology Laboratory, Environmental Science Seminar and Science Education.

They included Kristen Bricker, Olivia Basso, Tatiana Peinovic, Mihail Ocrainiciuc, Katherine Cooper, Billy Cvammen, Lindsay Ignazio, Meredith Fennel, Marcus Pinza, Katie Mokros, Annie Zaremba, Danielle Buzzacco, Courtney Ross, Mackenzie Fegan, JD Baylor, Alex Mackowicki, David Montgomery, and Meghan Skrypka.