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Doing Good in D.C.

Fifteen Marymount Manhattan College students recently embarked on a “vacation of volunteering,” feeding the homeless and exploring Washington, D.C.

“It was like a vacation, but a vacation of volunteering,” remarked junior Samantha Kienemund, who alongside fifteen other MMC students, spent four days feeding the homeless and hungry in Washington, D.C. as part of MMC’s Alternative Break Program. Over four days, students volunteered at a combined nine organizations, feeding hundreds of hungry men and women, and still made time to visit landmarks like the Smithsonian and the Washington Monument. The Alternative Break Program exposes our students to new perspectives and gives them the opportunity to give back to the world, thus fulfilling a major part of the College’s mission. More than anything, these service trips offer students the kind of education that one can’t get by sitting in a classroom or taking exams: students learn what it means to be socially and ethically conscious citizens of the world.

Right from the start, students began to realize that the trip would be different from what they had expected, due at first to some particularly nasty weather. “The federal government shut down and all of these shelters and organizations shut down,” explained student Jamie Duell, “and the first thing we thought was ‘these people who were going to be fed today aren’t going to get food.’” So, making the best out of a bad situation, the students decided to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bring them to the cold and hungry homeless men and women throughout the city. “I thought that was a great first day experience, because we all got to bond and we all got to see the city and see what the situation is.”

Students branched off into three different groups, with each serving one different volunteering organization over four days. In tandem with service activities like preparing food and playing board games, students began to connect with the less fortunate men and women and started to see things from a different perspective. “We got to really talk to them,” said senior Jean Flick, “they’re just like us: they care about movies, they’re upset about the weather. We got to know them; got to know their personalities. They’re not homeless people, they’re just people.”

Jean, a veteran of MMC alternative break trips, knew from the get-go that she would want to be part of this trip. To raise the one-hundred dollar fee, Jean employed the help of the MMC community, asking her professors for a hand. She was shocked by the outpouring of support and encouragement she received from her mentors. Jean added that the major highlight of the trip was bonding with her fellow students and growing from the experiences with her new friends. “I developed so much. I made friends that I’ll have forever.”

Marymount Manhattan College is proud to give students outlets such as the Alternative Break Program to explore new places and new perspectives. Programs such as these are just one small part of our goal to broaden our student’s horizons and inspire personal growth. We congratulate and commend these students for their work and dedication for the homeless community and for their enthusiasm in sharing their experiences. 

Published: February 18, 2014