Sophomore Service Trip Changes Student Perspectives: ‘Eye Opening’

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Staff Writers , Journalism I

Making people smile by just giving them something to eat or listening to their stories–that is what 18 sophomores from Notre Dame did last weekend.

Campus minister Daniel Kriegl, along with Father Brad and a parent volunteer, drove the students to Chicago on Friday for the weekend service trip.  

The annual trip takes place the weekend of Veterans Day where 18 sophomores help run a food pantry, take a spiritual night walk through Chicago, and talk and interact with the homeless community.

“You get to interact with people from different backgrounds and different walks of life,” said Kriegel, who  made a similar weekend service trip while a student at St. Norbert College.  This is his seventh time to organize the NDA trip to the Brother David Darst Center, where the students and advisers board for the weekend.

The students leave at noon on Friday for Chicago. There they split up and either take part in a night walk around Chicago or help out at a men’s shelter.

“There are so many people in need,” Kriegl said. “You interact with a lot of people from different backgrounds, beliefs, ways of life, sexuality and genders.” 

During the night walk, students take a spiritual journey through the north side of Chicago, widely considered the safest and nicest area of the city, and reflect on the people in need, such as the homeless who are often ignored in that area of the city.

At the men’s center, known as the Cornerstone Center, students helped with everyday tasks–from cleaning to serving. Students also got to interact with those at the Cornerstone Center.

“We got to go in and talk to people who are homeless. You get to realize how much alike they are to you,” said Abby Wittler, a sophomore that participated in the trip.

During one of these visits, students spoke to a homeless man named Randall whose life was tainted with drugs and alcohol. He was a former psychology professor and just wanted people to speak to.

“We have to be present to those in need. Sometimes we just want to throw money at a problem,” Kriegl said. “If you are fully present to those in need, you will see the beauty in them.”

On Saturday, students helped run a food pantry at St James Parish for the homeless. Some 250 people showed up, mostly minorities, and some even came three hours early just so they could get some high quality food, which doesn’t come often for them.

The trip concluded on Sunday after a mass at St. James.

Mr. Kriegl emphasized there are needs here at NDA as well as in the inner city.  “You don’t have to go very far,” he told the journalism class.  “Even here in our hallways people need our presence.”

Sophomores on the service trip were Grant Allen, Catharina Baeten, Jordan Bellmund, Katherine Fangman, Chloe Greenwood, Elizabeth Hoeppner, Bridget Kapic, Emily Landwehr, Sydney Lemkuil, Ellese Martin, Cassidy Noble, Helena Parmar, Courtney Romes, Alexandra Van Dreel, Samuel Van Straten, Wittler, Evan Witczak and Benjamin Zabriskie.

Journalism I students Mina Refardt, Josie Sullivan, Thomas Zakowski, Cashay Lewis, Lauren Van Gheem and Ashley Lemens contributed to this story.