Eleven area students, including six MCCN students, traveled to Washington, D.C.. in May as part of a mission trip sponsored by MCCN Campus Ministry and the Downtowners Campus Ministry. Students were able to experience a wide range of activities including learning about issues, serving others, meeting legislators and even fit in a bit of sightseeing.
Students attended a program on “Issues of Justice and Mercy and Finding a Voice,” learning about hunger and homelessness, human trafficking, immigration, jobs with justice and obtaining a living wage. Once everyone got a background on key issues, students served breakfast for 400 people at So Others May Eat (SOME), led by Father John Adams. Students next went to the Central Union Mission & Gales School to meet with homeless individuals and learn how their lives have improved through the mission’s work.
After learning and meeting with people directly impacted by these hard issues, students met in separate meetings with Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.
The trip was topped off by devotions featuring the Gospel of Luke and Psalm 139 and sightseeing to the Holocaust Museum, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol building and the Catholic Basilica, where students visited the alcove close to the main altar dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Students also visited Ford’s Theatre and the rooming house across the street where President Lincoln died.
The three-day trip had a profound impact on MCCN students.
“Being with the poor, experiencing the Holocaust Museum, feeding the homeless were all truly life changing experiences I will never forget. I feel whole in my heart as a person coming home from this trip. Never did I imagine learning this much or walking away with a completely new mindset and outlook on the world. If I could say one thing to all the people I met on this trip it would be this: ‘It is not who we are that holds us back but simply who we think we are not,’” said Sarah Nickel.
“I will never forget the opportunity that I had getting to speak with senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. They listened to the issues that we represented and I know it is a rare opportunity to have the ability to speak with the Senators. I just wanted to thank everyone for this wonderful opportunity,” added Ellen Strickler.
Yuliya Fonin said the trip made an impact on how she will work for others. “During this trip we helped the homeless by serving food at a shelter. We were also provided with the opportunity to see ‘the face’ of homeless by speakers with personal experience of being homeless. Now I know that I can do more than watch these people suffer and I wish to teach others about the importance of helping. I have been an advocate for the homeless on this trip and I am passionate about continuing this advocacy throughout my career as a nursing student and beyond,” she said.
“The most memorable and biggest eye opener was listening to the various speakers during the seminar. It was so life changing to hear how they went through tough times, but then one day God helped them through and now they are able to share their experiences with others. I will not forget our experiences and talks with our Senators. Now we can follow up to make great changes for Ohio,” said Jenna Grunden.
“When we had the great opportunity to feed the homeless, I gained greater insight to the homeless population in Washington, D.C. We had the great experience of feeding around 500 homeless men and women. I was one of the coffee servers who went around and served coffee to the people. During that experience I came to the conclusion that these people are no different than me. I am just experiencing a different situation. It became clear that homelessness is definitely not a choice,” said Will Taylor.
The Washington, D.C., mission trip was made possible by grants from the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the Synod of the Convenant, Presbyterian Church (USA). The majority of students contributed $350, although additional funding was available through the Student Government Association and the Downtowners Campus Ministry.