Chicago Service Trip Called ‘Eye-Opening’ & ‘Life-Changing’

Abby Wittler, Staff Writer, Journalism I

Hunger, cold, helplessness, and fear are just some of the things homeless people must feel on a regular basis. This past weekend I was able to gain a completely new wealth of information on this subject. I also got a new perspective that I probably never would have gotten without the yearly NDA Chicago service trip.

This trip is offered to 18 sophomores every year and anyone can apply to be a part of this trip. It costs $250 but no one should ever worry about the cost because our campus minister Mr. Kriegel will cover costs if someone can not afford the trip and really wants to go.

You stay at the Brother David Darst center in the south side of Chicago where you prepare and clean up completely vegetarian meals and stay with either one other person or even up to six. The Darst Center provides more than what you need to be comfortable but also reminds you to be as environmentally friendly as you can while you stay.

Myself and 17 other sophomores had an amazing and eye-opening experience through this trip, and I truly believe that this will stay with me forever.

During the trip we spoke to homeless men in a shelter, walked around Wrigleyville, volunteered at a food pantry, heard former homeless people’s stories and attended a mass on Sunday morning. We also took time to reflect and process all we were experiencing.

I think without the reflections we did and without the ability to ask questions this trip would not have been so impactful to me. The people at the Darst Center were all so helpful and willing to provide us with any information we wanted to know.

Through all of this I realized that these people are just the same as you or me; they just happened to stumble over something in their lives that landed them on the streets. Sometimes it was a problem with drugs or alcohol, loss of a job, injury, or even the loss of the only family they had.

These are not by any means bad people who deserve any less than anyone else. They most of the time just had a stroke of bad luck.

Learning these people’s stories was completely sobering and made me realize I should be so much more grateful for all that I have. I am not nearly as happy or optimistic as these men and women are, and I have so much more.

They are all so happy to be getting anything that you are helping provide for them and it is absolutely amazing to see.

My perspective on the homeless was completely altered, mostly because formerly I had no experience with them and relied solely on stereotypes which is completely wrong. I am so glad that I was able to change the way I see people.

Everything I experienced this weekend resonated with me and I am still processing it all. I have always known the answer immediately when someone asked me what I want to grow up and do. For years now the answer has always been criminal psychology, but after this experience I would consider a job in social justice any day of the week.

I hope to be able to continue serving the less fortunate than me for the rest of my life no matter where I live or what my situation is.

I would encourage everyone with an open mind and will to learn the harsh truths of the world to apply for this trip next year. I cannot speak for anyone else, but it is hard for me to even put into words how amazing this weekend was.