Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Camp Glenmary gears up thanks to student help!

Camp Glenmary, running since the 1970s and has been the site of two weeks of camping open to low-income kids in northeastern Mississippi and two weeks of "Catholic Camp," a time when Catholic young people from that same area gather as a group to experience the uniqueness of not being in the minority. Father Tim Murphy,  the camp's director, says without hesitation that our volunteers "make camp possible."

Our students are working hard to prepare the camp for this summers children, raking and burning leaves, cleaning cabins and windows, and helping Brother Terry on the tractor! Today they helped reorganize at the local food bank and tonight they are going to Elvis Presley 's  house! How cool! 

Here is a recent email from Morgan Seney, student leader:
We started off the morning with a home cooked meal provided by Mr Kelly, a member of the Aberdeen church community. He made us biscuits, grits, and sausage- a traditional southern meal! The group has been working hard raking, cleaning, and preparing the dorms for when the kids arrive this summer. As we clean and prepare the camp we can start to picture the kids running and playing on the fields, having bonfires, and having the time of their lives at summer camp! We can't wait for another day of work in this beautiful Mississippi weather!!!!

"I was hungry, and you gave me food" - Matt 25:35

Guests wait outside in Soup Line
The Andre House of Hospitality is a Catholic Worker ministry to the homeless and poor populations in Phoenix, AZ. Our students have been making daily dinners for 200-400 guests every night, as well as sorting clothing donations, mopping floors, running the drop in center, and running the soup line. Our group was very moved by the core staff at Andre House of students just out of college who have dedicated a year to doing this work day in and day out. They have also enjoyed the company of Fr. Eric Scimmel CSC who is the Andre House Director. They were reminded of the importance of their work when a volunteer told them that 38% of those who are homeless will wake up in the morning and not speak a word to anyone all day. Just a reminder that a smile and a hello can mean a great deal.
Thank you to Fr. Eric and the staff of Andre House for teaching our group about true unconditional hospitality!
Group slices fruit for tonight's dinner
Learn more at

"Preach the Gospel at all times...If necessary, use words." - St. Francis

(wo)manning the dessert cart! best job ever!
 "Preach the Gospel at all times...If necessary, use words." - St. Francis

The St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia does a wonderful job providing both meals and human dignity to their lunch and dinner guests, and our students are having a wonderful time working with their staff and making friends with the guests.
Clearly they are working hard! Lots to do with meal preparation, making meals to go, delivering food to the home-bound,  keeping tabs on the dessert cart (my personal favorite job when I visited!), and serving meals restaurant style within the Inn.
This group has truly learned what it means to see the face of Christ in those they serve...with a helpful reminder of the smiley face around the peephole on the door saying "Smile, its Jesus on the other side".
The St. Francis inn mural across the street

Serving meals restaurant style provides both human contact and dignity to guests.

Biggest put of spaghetti sauce ever!

Group Bonding!

Home Sweet H.O.M.E!

Group Bonding!
 Greetings from H.O.M.E. in Orland, Maine!

The group is having an exceptional week at the co-op in Maine for individuals and families needing assistance. They have been doing everything from chopping wood, to painting, to sorting goods for the thrift store, and a bunch of other odd jobs (as ususal in Maine!)
The group leaders are impressed with how quickly this group has bonded! (as you can see in the photo on the right!)
They have met many wonderful residents and are truly putting their faith into action.
Both young and old find a home here!
 Keep it up, Maine'rs!

Making meals for 20 is no easy task!
But sure looks like they're having fun!

Veronica speaks Spanish with a resident of HOME

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Email Update from Costa Rica

Tearing down older home of CFCA sponsored family

Poles and Walls of new house up by day 2!
Just Landed! At San Jose Airport 2/24/12
Group Photo in front of new house with sponsored family

Just a quick update from Los Chiles! For the past 3 days we have been hard at work. We tore down the Martinez-Espinoza house on the first day and now at the end of day three we have all the walls up and two room floors fully cemented. In between these two stages, we have dug 26 three-feet holes using shovels and metal sticks with a sharp head to break up dirt (similar to the end of an axe but dull), carried extremely heavy cement beams, mixed concrete, leveled a floor and carried the cement wall pieces to be placed. Today and yesterday we have also made time, in between working, to play soccer with Jose Carmelo and Isaida, two of the children from the family. Today some of the neighboring children joined us too, and we had a lot of fun playing with them.

Yesterday, we took a tour of some of the other parts of Los Chiles and got to see a house Saint A’s built a few years ago. During this tour we were able to deliver gifts from a Manchester sponsor to three of her sponsored kids.  The area we are in is extremely impoverished but absolutely breathtaking at the same time. It’s safe to say our group feels humbled and thankful for this experience.

Tomorrow we have our day off. First, we get to sleep in and then go on a scenic boat tour of Rio Frio towards the Nicaraguan border. Next, we have a soccer match scheduled in the afternoon with local children, our whole group and the CFCA members.

So far the weather has been beautiful and not too hot, the people are more than welcoming and just like the first report, the food is great.

See ya soon,
Meaghan & Nicole (Leaders)
SBA Costa Rica

"Good morning from Tuba City!"

Navajo Nation leader Jess Buckley sent this picture message this morning:

"Good morning from tuba city! We woke up to a fresh coat of snow on the ground and no power. Who knew we'd have to come all the way to Arizona to get some snow!"

Hard at work in Mississippi

 The Camp Glenmary group spent the day hard at work moving trees with Father Tim while Brother Terry manned the tractor.

The whole Mississippi group at the outlook taking a well-deserved photo break!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday's Service Day a great success for all!

Hello family and friends,
Students at H.O.M.E. in Maine
   I hope you are all enjoying the stories and pictures from our groups! Its been wonderful for me to get so many photos and text messages from our student leaders sharing little highlights of their day, or how happy they are that the group is bonding so well. All the stories have been great ones so far! Maine is working very hard both indoors and out at the H.O.M.E Co-op, Philly and Phoenix are having wonderful experiences working the soup line and in the thrift stores at the St. Francis Inn and Andre House. Maryland is having dinner tonight at the group home for adults with special needs, and Manchester had a great day meeting refugee families at the International Institute and putting together food boxes at New Horizons.
Costa Rica called this morning and almost have ALL the walls up on their house!
Hoping to get pictures from them to share with you soon! 
Thanks for checking in!

No rest for the boys in Maine! Chopping serious wood!

Cooking up a storm at the St. Francis Inn, Philly

Kristen chopping peppers for today's dinner

Philly girls posing in the dining room under our school pennant

The Phoenix group takes a short break at the Andre House

Sunday, February 26, 2012

All trips having an excellent first day!

Maryland Group outside Benedictine School

Navajo group stops in Sedona on their way to the Reservation
All our groups are having an excellent first day at their sites! We are lucky enough to have been sent group pictures from some of the trips! Maryland, Navajo, Maine and Mississippi have sent pictures so far..more to come, hopefully!

I've also gotten wonderful text messages from the groups in Maine and Philly saying even the first 24 hours has been incredible. Praise God!

Thanks for all your prayers!

Maryland's Sunday off touring the National Mall in D.C.

Mississippi gets right to work cleaning Camp Glenmary
Maine is feeling at home already  at H.O.M.E.
Navajo's Sunday off at the Grand Canyon

Saturday, February 25, 2012

All Groups Arrived Safely

All trips have arrived at their service sites.
The Fuller Center for Housing trip landed safely in Shreveport, LA after a layover delay in Atlanta. However, due to the delay the van rental facility at the airport closed for the night. The group will be staying in an airport hotel overnight tonight, and picking up their vans to drive to Minden, LA (30 min away) early tomorrow morning.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can email
Thanks for your continued support!

Trip Arrival Update

Hello friends and family,
Many of our trips have arrived at their sites by now! They are:
Mississippi (in route from airport with Fr. Tim to camp glenmary)
New Orleans
Navajo Nation (in route from Phoenix to Tuba City with Eric from Amizade)

the Fuller trip has had a flight delay in Atlanta, and should arrive in Louisiana around 8pm EST
Maryland is still driving but will be there soon.

Thanks for all your prayers! Please continue to pray for a blessed week of service!

Costa Rica already having a great time!

Here is an email I received from student leader Meg on Saturday morning. Thought you would all like to read!

The weather is beautiful here, and the foood...out of this world. When we arrived we got to have a nice lunch with Elizabeth and Javier from CFCA. They fed us roasted chicken, rice, fresh tortilla wraps, black bean dip, plantines and fresh avocado. We then took a scenic 4.5 hour tour through the countryside and arrived here around 830. Dinner was lovely. After dinner Elizabeth introduced us to the CFCA social workers and they told us more about the house and family we will be working with. This AM we have an induction ceremony and then we arriving on site to knock the existing house down and to lay the foundation. We have a great week ahead of us.
Talk to you soon!

P.S we saw huge iguanas and took a nice little video on the flip cam. Wish all the leaders leaving today good luck from us and we'll be thinking of them :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Costa Rica arrives in Los Chiles

9:08PM EST - Nicole Silvia just texted saying they arrived safely at their hotel in Los Chiles. All are doing well and looking forward to a good nights rest before they start building tomorrow!
- Joycelin

Costa Rica arrives at San Jose airport

Good News! The Costa Rica group had a great flight to San Jose! They arrived safely and called as they were going through customs. It should be a 3 or 4 hour ride with the CFCA representatives to their service site in Los Chiles. Cell phone service there will be limited, but I will update here when I hear from them upon their arrival.

All other trips will be departing Saturday 2/25 between 2:30am and 12:30pm. Please pray for good weather and safe travel for all of our students!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our SPRING trips depart in 2 days!

We are gearing up for our Spring departures to 10 locations throughout the US and Costa Rica! Students begin to leave this Friday and should all be at their sites by Saturday night! If you are a family member, or local friend, please join us for our SBA SENDING FORTH MASS at 7pm in the Lower Abbey Church Thursday night.

Our locations this spring include:
SBA (Feb 25 - Mar 3)

  • Aberdeen, Mississippi
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Orland, Maine
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ridgley, Maryland
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Springhill, Louisiana
  • Tuba City, Arizona 
Students will be doing everything from work in soup kitchens, to tutoring children with special needs, to doing rebuilding and refurbishing work. We are so proud of these students and their willingness to give up their spring break for those in need! Please pray for them this upcoming week, and keep checking in for photo and story updates!
- Joycelin