Gannon University students and faculty will be helping victims rebuild their lives after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy – but they’ll be doing more than cleaning up.

Gannon University President Keith Taylor, Ph.D., and Gannon students and faculty will be building homes for Habitat for Humanity – but they’ll be doing more than carpentry.

During Gannon’s week of spring break, March 2-9, Dr. Taylor and the student, faculty, and staff participants in the University’s alternative break service trips (ABSTs) will be making communities better.

They will focus on service during a week that many of their peers will spend vacationing or relaxing.

They will learn the importance of solidarity and compassion for those in need.

They will be living examples of Christ.

Service is a key aspect of the vision of Dr. Taylor. “Tradition of Service – Strengthening our Community,” was the theme of his Presidential Inauguration address. He has volunteered alongside students during previous break trips to the Bronx, Haiti, and Honduras, and will be an active participant again this year.

“As a Catholic and caring University, there is a strong and vibrant culture of service at Gannon that extends from our freshman residence halls to Old Main,” Dr. Taylor said. “Service is a selfless and such a personally enriching experience, and that’s why I’m proud and humbled to serve with a very dedicated group of students who are devoting their spring break to something as noble as helping others in need. Their commitment to taking part in something greater than themselves reflects the essence of Gannon University.”

The nearly 60 students, faculty, and staff participating in this year’s trips are Gannon’s most ever. This year’s six alternative break trips also represent a milestone for the University.

More about Gannon’s 2013 alternative break service trips (ABSTs)

The trips are based upon four pillars: service, simplicity, community, and reflection. The teams will journey to:

  • Haiti – This will be Gannon’s second ABST in Haiti. Ten participants, including seven students, will travel to Port Au Prince to focus on social justice and immersion. Gannon is partnering with Outreach to Haiti and Catholic Relief Services. The participants will shadow workers in public health clinics and will participate in activities with children in a local orphanage. In addition, the group will visit with Marie Soudnie Rivette, a native Haitian who was a visiting community solutions fellow at Gannon in the fall.
  • San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala – Gannon students and faculty will make a service trip to Guatemala for the third time through the San Lucas Mission. The seven participants, including five students, will be planting trees, processing coffee, and building roads and homes. The trip also has a social justice component in that participants will learn about the Guatemalan Civil War and land restoration projects among indigenous Maya communities.
  • Newland, N.C. – Dr. Taylor will participate in the trip to Newland, as Gannon makes an ABST to North Carolina for the first time. The 15 participants, including 13 students, will be busy with housing construction through a local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Many of the students also are members of the Gannon University Habitat for Humanity club.
  • Toronto, Ontario – Seven participants, including six students, will spend the week living and working in solidarity with the core members and assistants at L’Arche Daybreak, a community for individuals with emotional, physical, or intellectual disabilities. The participants will work alongside the core members – those with disabilities – in L’Arche’s craft studio and woodshop. The trip includes a social justice component, in that the experience is intended to reinforce the dignity of all people. This is the second consecutive year Gannon has chosen Toronto and L’Arche Daybreak as an ABST destination.
  • Detroit, Mich. – Nine participants, including eight students, will spend the week working with Capuchin Soup Kitchen, a ministry of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph. Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, the organization strives to meet people’s basic needs, especially the need for daily nourishment. The participants will help with gardening and with serving meals while also learning about social justice and inequality in a depressed, urban area. The trip has another social justice component in that the participants will learn about activism in the city, to include public art and local revitalization efforts. Gannon is partnering with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council and Urban Earthworks Farm.
  • New York City – Nine participants, including eight students, will help with relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy. The team will focus on helping residents in Staten Island. Gannon will partner with the World Cares Center, which was founded after 9/11 and which is designed to empower communities through disaster response training and coordination.