In Tampa, Campus Ministry Spent Spring Break Giving Back
Over spring break, 25 students from St. John Fisher College’s Office of Campus Ministry took a service trip to Tampa, Florida where students served the homeless and helped build homes for those in need.
Students started at a Habitat for Humanity site, Restore, which collects donated building materials and home appliances that are then restored and donated back to the community. The students spent the day helping to clean and organize the site, as Restore’s limited staff often struggles to keep up with donations.
The next day students worked on a Habitat house, installing insulation and finishing the roof.
“To be able to say you helped build someone’s house that they can live in and afford makes you a little happy inside,” said Daniel Carter ’22.
Next, the team spent time at Trinity Café, a full service restaurant that provides free meals. The students served food to the homeless, and also sat and talked with their guests.
On the final day of the service trip, the students worked at a food bank, sorting materials that are donated to the homeless, or support restaurants like the Trinity Café.
Throughout the trip, students were rewarded for their hard work by attending fun events including Strawberry Festival and time at the beach. Students said it was a time of reflection and celebration for all on the trip.
“It was a really eye-opening trip and I learned to really appreciate what we have. Sometimes people complain that we don’t have anything good today in the dining hall, but when you compare that to the restaurant in Florida they have to either eat what’s served or be hungry. After seeing that, it made me realize that I have options, even if I don’t love it,” said MacGregor Winegard ’22.
The students received a lot of praise for their work. The Tampa Habitat for Humanity contacted its Rochester location to tell them what an amazing job the Fisher students did and to encourage them to recruit Fisher volunteers.
Last year, the trip only had six students attend. Campus Ministry had a goal to double that number, but ended up quadrupling it.
“I would encourage anybody to come on the trip regardless of whether they are religious or not,” Winegard said. “There were a lot of people who are religious on the trip, but many who are not. Everyone was so welcoming it didn’t matter what your background was.”
Back at Fisher, Campus Ministry continues to encourage students to find ways to contribute to the local community.
“All the things we did here in Florida, we can do back at home. We don’t have to go far away to find these opportunities,” said Father Kevin Mannara, director of Campus Ministry.