GMercyU Members Attend Alternative Spring Break in Baltimore

Members of the GMercyU community traveled to Baltimore for Alternative Spring Break (ASB) this year to engage in service activities with three organizations in the Mercy tradition: Stella Maris, Saint Vincent’s Villa, Gallagher Services.

“Alternative Spring Break was so meaningful to me. It gave me and a group of students an opportunity to see Mercy in action. In just a few short days, we worked with kids, adults with intellectual disabilities, the homeless population, and older adults in long-term care. We were inspired by all the people we worked with and plan to bring the Mercy message back to campus,” shared Liz Kerper ‘24, ASB attendee.

Stella Maris, located on the Loch Raven reservoir in Baltimore County, is a campus with a nursing home, counseling center, independent living apartments, and a retirement community. The Stella Maris campus is a tranquil place containing walking paths, benches, and gardens that create an inviting environment.

Saint Vincent’s Villa is a residential facility designed for children who’ve experienced trauma or have mental health concerns. At Saint Vincent’s Villa, ASB attendees helped with the maintenance of a nature trail and attended a physical education and environmental science class with the children.

Gallagher Services is an organization dedicated to supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization’s goal is to help these individuals become as independent as possible. Here, ASB participants interreacted and gardened with the residents of Gallagher Services.

More Than Just Service

While ASB is about service to others, it is also about reflection. Each night, ASB participants reflected on the events of the day in the form of journaling and group sharing. Reflections included feelings about service, personal experiences, and hopes for the next day.

When ASB members weren’t engaged in service, they visited some other sites around Baltimore including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Presentation and Service Project and Marion House.

On Wednesday, the group traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with David Cronin, Senior Policy and Legislative Specialist for Catholic Relief Services, and Michael Jordan Laskey, the Director of Communications for the Jesuit Conference and representative of Jesuit Refugee Services. They also met Jemiah Williams, Legislative Correspondent to the U.S. House of Representatives for Madeleine Dean, and the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

The Mercy Center will sponsor additional Alternative Breaks to Benson, VT and New York City in May 2023. Learn more here.