Service & Justice Trips Archive



GetFileAttachmentMahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” That is exactly what happened on my service trip.  I served a community in Cleveland, Ohio and felt so humbled afterward. I found a passion for serving others so great, I’ve realized I want to spend my life doing it. We went on a service trip for one week, but that one week changed more inside of me than I ever imagined it would. I thought I would make new friends, help a group of people, and feel good about myself. Instead I made best friends, served a group of people, and I feel invigorated.

One of my specific favorite days was spent at a church in the area called St. Malachi. We assisted in giving food to the homeless, played with children in an after-school program, and cleaned A LOT of dust (they were remodeling their kitchen). Working in the kitchen was probably one of my most memorable days. There we met a man named Guy who not only made us delicious paninis, but also gave advice that resonated with me. He said, “You can work in the corporate world and go home happy on Fridays, or you can work to serve others and be happy everyday.” It was at this moment that I recognized how I want to spend my life in service to people in one way or another.

As we played and spent time with the children, I was reminded of my love for little kids and my dream job of being a teacher.  This experience during my service trip made me appreciate that happiness does not depend on money, but instead on living in solidarity, serving others, and doing what you love. Before, my life was focused on how to a achieve a stable, money-making job to be happy. Now I know that money really cannot buy my happiness.

One of the greatest things my trip gave to me was challenge. It made me question society, our culture, and our treatment of our underprivileged brothers and sisters. Most of all, it made me examine myself. In doing so, I understood more about who I am and who I want to become. In serving, you receive so much more than you could ever give.

Simply put, my service trip was life changing. I fell in love with Cleveland, my group, and the people we served. I am thankful for all the times I laughed, the conversations that made me reflect, the Catholic Workers who showed me how to be a friend to all, and especially, for the opportunity to have such a wonderful experience.

Chelsea Driscoll
Class of 2017
FBSJT 2014 Trip Participant



The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.



Immigration: The Realities, Reflection, and Justice

vinnyblogThe discrepancy between hearing and experiencing an issue first-hand is so vast that each perspective seems like a completely different issue. Witnessing the issue of immigration reform in El Paso, Texas at the Columban Border Mission was one of the truest experiences I have ever had in my entire life.

On one of our first days at the border, we cooked a meal for thirty undocumented immigrants and had the chance to eat dinner with them. During the meal, I began talking to one of the migrants in Spanish about his stay in El Paso and why he was here. He told me that four months ago, he was deported from Miami back to Guatemala with no money or identification. Being that his wife and kids were still in Miami, he had no choice but to find a way to get reunited with them.

Four months later, there he was talking to me with the aspirations to save up money on a sub-minimum wage salary in order to get back together with his family. He showed me a photo of his daughter that had just been born three days prior to this encounter, whose birth he missed due to his deportation. This was one of the many touching stories I heard while on my journey at the border. It’s clear that this issue is not one to be taken lightly as it deals with the safety and separation of thousands of migrant families.

My El Paso group and I spent many nights and car rides discussing this issue’s complexity, wondering how exactly our country should deal with it. My group was so motivated to learn about immigration that our reflections truly developed our understanding of the issue while helping us to see the big picture. Many times, we would have “post reflection” where we would stay up until two or three in the morning, just talking about life, as well as immigration. One could say those reflections were our strongest pillar during this service trip.

Overall, we got to visit and help out at many of the community service organizations that help the migrants and poor in El Paso. It was inspiring to see so many people who have devoted countless years to try to better the lives of others who have crossed the border in search of a safer living. Through these visits we noted that there really is a lot of good in El Paso. However, there still is a vast amount of work to be done in regards to immigration reform as a whole. I have recently taken the opportunity to teach an English class to the Hispanic population in Omaha as a response to this enormously impactful service trip. By spreading the word about immigration to others and helping migrants in our local communities, my group and I hope to counter the injustices that we experienced first hand at the border in El Paso.

Vincent Nicchi
Class of 2016
College of Arts & Sciences
FBSJT 2014 Trip Coordinator



The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.


Fall Break 2014 Host Sites

Fall Break 2014
Service and Justice Trips
Community Host Partners

Half Week Trips:

Omaha, NE Siena/Francis: Oct. 21-25, 2014
Homelessness in Omaha: Getting to know our Neighbors

As with all our half-week (5 day) trips, this is definitely more of an immersion trip rather than a service trip. You are invited to experience the reality of homelessness and the care and advocacy offered right here in our own city. Live with the guests at our local community partner Siena/Francis House, which focuses on meeting basic needs and accompanying people along their recovery process. You will sleep in the shelter as the ministry of presence is the primary component of this trip. A lot of time will be spent hearing the stories of the guests there, many of whom are experiencing mental illness or addiction, in formal meetings, informal time spent in the day shelter, and during meals. This trip is the 2nd half of the week: March 12-15.

Relevant Website: Siena/Francis House, National Coalition for the Homeless,

Omaha, NE – Sustainability Orientation

This five-day seminar exposes the participants to five different aspects of sustainability in Omaha: transportation, water, food, energy, and waste/recycling. Students will engage these topics through integrating hands-on experience with education by experts in the field of sustainability. Students will attempt to live sustainably during the seminar by walking, using public transportation, eating locally/seasonally/organically, reducing our use of water and energy through conservation, and creating little waste; (This may mean not eating meat). This sustainability seminar seeks to educate and engage Creighton students about these issues in order that we might begin to create a more sustainable community here at Creighton and beyond.

Full Week Trips:

Albuquerque, NM – St. Martin’s Hospitality Center

Ministry of presence with homeless guests in New Mexico
Students will be interacting daily with men and women experiencing homelessness. There will be meetings with those who work on behalf of the poor. Students will spend their days talking with and spending time with shelter guests. This will help students understand poverty, injustice, and suffering in the area. St. Martin’s Hospitality Center is a day shelter that serves 250-300 clients daily. We provide showers, clothing, storage, and a hot breakfast every day. In addition we have a full range of behavioral services, case management, job development, and client advocacy. Students will have the opportunity to visit Art Street, a local studio which is open to St. Martin’s clients.

Relevant Websites: St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, National Coalition for the Homeless, US Conference of Catholic Bishops Economic Justice

Axtell, Nebraska – Mosaic Bethphage Village

Many of the over 100 persons who live at Bethphage Village in our service have multiple disabilities and therefore are some of society’s most vulnerable. Individuals live in group home settings and the feel of community is palpable. The students will have the opportunity to get to know a wide variety of personalities and backgrounds. Life is both robust and reflective in the Village. People are celebrated and compassionately cared for. Participants will have an opportunity to build relationships with those at the Village through visits, tutoring, playing with children, and the elderly. They will also engage the often hidden civil rights issues faced by those with special needs. Time at Bethphage Village will sensitize students and inspire them to offer a “voice” for those whose voice is often not heard.

Chicago, IL – Pilsen Poder Center

Latinos in Chicago – Integration, Contributions and Challenges
The Pilsen neighborhood on the near west side of Chicago is a vibrant Latino community. Your hosts will be the staff of the Poder Center (an English as a Second Language (ESL) and community center). The group lives and cooks its meals at the rectory of the Jesuit-run Catholic parish of St. Procopius. Service opportunities include tutoring adults at the Poder Center, tutoring children at St. Procopius elementary school, and serving at the parish soup kitchen and clothing depository. Groups learn about many local social justice issues and the local culture from a variety of experiences: talking with the youth group, eating dinner with parish families in their homes, touring the innovative and renowned Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and visiting the local Mexican Fine Arts Museum.

Relevant Websites: Poder Center, St. Procopius

Cleveland, OH – Catholic Worker

Gentrification and Homelessness: The Cleveland Catholic Worker House offers a week-long socioeconomic immersion experience in Cleveland, in the Ohio City neighborhood. Students live as part of the Catholic Worker community, as well as part of the larger neighborhood community that is diverse economically, racially, and socially. The experience includes volunteering with many different social services in the area including meal programs and getting to know the neighborhood and understanding its socioeconomic circumstances, especially the changes brought by gentrification in recent years.

Relevant Websites: Catholic Worker Movement, History of Ohio City, Cleveland, Poverty in Cleveland, US Conference of Catholic Bishops Economic Justice

Clinton, IA – The Joy of Communal Living at L’Arche

Students will be traveling to Clinton to live in a L’Arche community. L’Arche communities are homes for Core Members who have intellectual disabilities and their Assistants who work and live with them. Students will be sharing in community life and get to know the Core Members and Assistants and help with the day to day operations of the houses, such as getting ready in the morning, doing chores around the homes during the day, helping to prepare dinner, and evening activities. The L’Arche mission is to create homes of welcome, to appreciate the unique gifts of each person and to respond to each one’s needs.

East St. Louis, IL – Hubbard House
Variety of Direct Service

Sr. Marge Clifford organizes opportunities to work with outreach organizations in East St. Louis. Meet the staff and community members who are working tirelessly to improve their community. Students may work in a soup kitchen, thrift store or in school based setting. The students will stay at Hubbard House, whose mission is to “serve those who serve” by providing housing and meals as needed for area volunteers. Hubbard House provides a forum for discussing why there is poverty, why people continue to be poorer and why the “system” does not support the needs of the poor. There is a large focus on education and how it affects the cycle of poverty. Incorporated within this process are opportunities for advocacy and discussing systemic change, for example: What can you do about it?

Relevant Websites: Hubbard House, Information about Joe Hubbard and Founding of Hubbard House, US Conference of Catholic Bishops Economic Justice

El Paso, TX – Columban Border Immersion

The Missionary Society of St. Columban’s Office of Advocacy and Outreach will host this border immersion. Hearing peoples’ stories and accompanying them will be the focus of this trip. You will talk with community members about the pressures, challenges and joys of living and working along the border; additionally, learning about the violence in Juarez and the challenges of immigration, migration, land rights, economics, and sustainability. Students will stay at the Columban Mission Center, which has been refurbished in a sustainable way. Hands on service will be extremely limited but may include a day working on a community garden in the area and cooking a meal for hosts. Be present for Ministry of accompanyment, listening to service and supporting community efforts. Although you will not be crossing the border, you are required to have a valid United States ID and a passport with you.

Relevant Websites: Columban Advocacy & Outreach, Justice for Immigrants,Video about Lomas del Poleo Land Dispute,

Gould, AR – Daughters of Charity

Spend a week with the Daughters of Charity along with various organizations and ministries in both Little Rock and Gould, Arkansas. Opportunities within the city of Little Rock include Latino elementary school help, homeless ministry, time at a family development center for pregnant teenagers, SNAP outreach, and work at a local thrift shop. In Gould, a rural town of 800 people and apprx. 85% African American population, students will have the chance to minister to the elderly, work with a Head Start program, spend time at a health clinic, and to learn about local prison ministry.

Relevant Website: CCSJ Advocacy Alert – Poverty/Economic Justice

Kansas City, KS – Daughters of Charity

Spend a week with the Daughters of Charity staying at the Cathedral in Kansas City, Kansas. On this trip students will have many opportunities to work with men and women experiencing homelessness, with migrant farmworkers, the elderly, and high school/elementary school help. Students in the group will be educated on a variety of issues and work with different populations, while the sisters also look to connect the group with local Creighton Alumni.

Relevant Website: CCSJ Advocacy Alert – Poverty/Economic Justice

Lincoln, NE – ShadowBrook Farm
Farm in Lincoln

See what it’s like to work on a farm for a week
. ShadowBrook Farm is a small, family-owned specialty vegetable farm. They are committed to organic farming practices and are devoted to being good stewards of our land. They want to help move towards a “regional food system” where food is sold directly to the consumer rather than traveling many miles to reach your plate. About 10 acres are devoted to growing certified organic specialty vegetables and herbs. They also plant about an acre of cut-flowers. Their goal is to plant green manure crops in a third of our vegetable ground annually. They have a herd of dairy goats that are currently used for our own dairy needs. They are currently using four hoop-houses to extend our growing season. Using this system they are able to produce vegetables for ten months a year. Participants have the opportunity to make goat cheese and should expect to do work in the outdoors.

Relevant Website: ShadowBrook Farm, Green America, CCSJ Sustainability/Environmental Justice

Milwaukee, WI – CapCorps

Trying on a Post Grad Volunteer Program
While in Milwaukee, participants work with the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps (Cap Core) whose focus is service, spirituality, social justice, and sustainable living in community. One highlight of service trips to Milwaukee is the chance to eat with the guests of St. Ben’s Community Meal. Students spend a day at Repairers of the Breach, a drop in center that is organized and run by people who use the services they provide. As a new element to the immersion trips, students also have the opportunity to visit with Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant rights group that is working to bring about justice for immigrants. Students will work with the Catholic workers living in the house and experience their daily life. This is a great way for students to experience a Post-Grad Volunteer Program.

Relevant Websites: CapCorps, Repairers of the Breach, Voces de la Frontera, Growing Power, Inc., CCSJ Poverty/Economic Justice Priority, CCSJ Immigrants/Refugees Justice Priority, CCSJ Sustainability/Economic Justice Priority

Minneapolis, MN – Advocacy Justice Trip

Experience and learn about confronting injustices through community organizing and policy advocacy. SBSTers will meet with non-profit, religious, community, and government leaders in the Twin Cities who are creating more just communities, cities, and state through organizing, advocating, researching, and sharing stories of poverty and dignity in the public square. Participants will stay at the St. Joseph Worker’s Joseph House in the Phillips Neighborhood in Minneapolis. A general knowledge of the policy-making process would be useful for this trip, but is not necessary.

Montgomery, AL – Resurrection Catholic Missions

Resurrection Catholic Missions reaches out to the community around it. Some of the things that you may do here include working in Resurrection Catholic School (tutoring, P.E., reading, etc.), assisting with the interfaith Community Outreach program (cleaning homes, yard work, delivering meals), visiting the residents at a group home for several mentally and cognitively challenged adults. The trip also includes learning and discussing the role of the civil rights movement in Montgomery, AL through tours to various sites such as Tuskegee Institute, Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Rosa Parks Museum, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s church and home, an optional visit to MLK’s barber shop to meet MLK’s barber, and others. One evening is set aside for dinner with individuals who participated in the Civil Rights Movement as well as individuals who are active in addressing current social justice issues.

Relevant Websites: Resurrection Catholic Missions, US Conference of Catholic Bishops Economic Justice

Omaha, NE – One World Community Health Centers
Migrants, Immigrants, and Latinos in Omaha

This trip will focus on the history of South Omaha and the issue of immigration. During the week students will volunteer with the OneWorld Community Health Centers. This will include shadowing opportunities, much needed office projects and meeting with local health care professionals. Conversational Spanish is very helpful for this site.

Relevant Websites: OneWorld Omaha, Pixan Ixim, Jesuits on Migration and Immigration, Justice for Immigrants, Justice for Our Neighbors, CCSJ Immigrants/Refugees Justice Priority

Sioux City, IA – Habitat for Humanity

Join this community to work on a Habitat Home in the city with the highest level of poverty in the State of Iowa. Habitat for Humanity offers homeownership opportunities to families who are unable to obtain conventional house financing. Generally, this includes those whose income is 30 to 50 percent of the area’s median income. In most cases, prospective Habitat homeowner families make a $500 down payment and contribute 300 to 500 hours of “sweat equity” on the construction of their home or someone else’s home. Because Habitat houses are built using donations of land, material and labor, mortgage payments are kept affordable.

Relevant Websites: National Habitat for Humanity, National Low Income Housing Coalition, CCSJ Poverty/Economic Justice Priority

Stroud, OK – Habitat for Humanity
More than Hammers and Nails

Do you know, or want to learn, how to build a house? Work with Stroud’s Habitat for Humanity chapter to build or prepare to build a home for a family in this warm Oklahoma community. “Habitat for Humanity benefits the community as much as it does individual families. Habitat homes are well built by community members and our home owners are proud and responsible neighbors.”

Relevant Website: National Habitat for Humanity, Stroud Habitat for Humanity, National Low Income Housing Coalition,

Calhoun City, MS – EXCEL Community Center

The EXCEL program in Calhoun City, MS provides tutoring. EXCEL is a non-profit organization located in Okolona, Calhoun City and Morton MS which are still very segregated communities with high poverty and illiteracy rates. The participants will have the opportunity to learn about the reality in those communities, as well as help in the tutoring program and the local elementary school. The Sisters of St. Francis from Dubuque have launched and continue to sustain these centers.

Relevant Websites: Sisters of St. Francis, CCSJ Advocacy Alert – Poverty/Economic Justice

Morton, MS – EXCEL Community Center

The EXCEL program in Morton, MS provides tutoring, GED classes, adult on-going learning classes, computer classes, and a number of support groups for various interests. EXCEL is a non-profit organization located in 3 locations outside of Jackson, MS. Many communities are very segregated with high poverty and illiteracy rates. The participants will have the opportunity to learn about the reality in those communities, as well as help in the tutoring program and the thrift shop run by EXCEL. The Morton community also works with immigrant integration programs such as ESL and teaching local business owners Spanish. Area poultry plants are a draw for new workers.

Relevant Websites: Sisters of St. Francis, CCSJ Advocacy Alert – Poverty/Economic Justice, Mississippi Chicken

New Orleans, LA – Duchesne House

Creighton students have been going on Service Trips to the Gulf Coast since 1997. There was a large interest in trips to New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and through a partnership with the St. Bernard Project, Creighton Students have been able to be a part of the rebuilding process. The ongoning rebuilding process is more than just providing houses for people, and by staying with the Duchesne House students will learn about the unseen effects that Katrina had on the city by engaging the issues of education, healthcare, poverty, and numerous other topics. While staying at the Duchesne House students will have the opportunity to hear many individual stories from those that participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

Relevant Websites: Duchesne House, New Orleans Province Jesuit Social Ministries, Jesuit Social Research Institute

New Orleans, LA – House of Charity

A Charity Federation, Sisters and Daughters of Charity from all over the country, host this trip. Through a partnership with the House of Charity and 4 days of work with the St. Bernard’s Project, Creighton Students have been able to be a part of the rebuilding and restoration process in New Orleans. Service opportunities include general home repair and rebuilding, e.g. finishing drywall and mudding. The rebuilding process is more than just providing homes for people. Hearing personal stories gives students the opportunity to see the challenges that remain. Meeting the homeowners is a favorite part of this trip. The Sisters at the House of Charity provide a welcoming environment to help students process, reflect and serve during this trip.

St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN – White Violet Eco Center

The Sisters of Providence at the White Violet Eco-Center (in Terre Haute, IN) introduce the principles of eco-justice and Providence Spirituality while engaging in service at and around Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, near Terre Haute, Indiana. The service sites will alternate between the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (includes organically certified farmland, orchards and gardens), Catholic Charities and St. Ann Clinic. There will also be maintenance in our organic gardens, assistance with daily alpaca care, work on our nature trail, working in landscaped areas near WVC buildings, and orchard maintenance. Participants will assist in annual cleaning tasks such as cleaning alpaca pens and fans, cleaning and putting up bluebird boxes, alpaca fiber program, recycling and biomass program, cleaning, or playing games with sisters in the memory loss unit.

Relevant Websites: Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, White Violet Alpacas, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice, CCSJ Advocacy Alert – Sustainability/Environmental Justice

Wheeling, WV – Environmental Immersion

This environmental immersion through the Wheeling Appalachian Institute takes students throughout the state of West Virginia to learn about energy consumption and production, and its environmental and human costs. Students meet with both advocates and opponents for natural gas, coal, and wind energy that show both sides of a complicated issue. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to become immersed into the rich West Virginian culture and be awed by the natural beauty of this wonderful and frequently misunderstood state.

Relevant Websites: Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit, Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, ABLE Families, Creighton University Sustainability Council, CCSJ Advocacy Alert – Sustainability/Environmental Justice

Winnebago, NE – St. Augustine Mission

A week on the Winnebago Reservation
Enjoy a nice drive an hour and a half north to a great experience with the Winnebago and Omaha tribe. You will be staying on the Winnebago reservation and engage with the local community as well as helping out in St. Augustine Mission school. You will gain an insight into the history of American Indians and learn about the cultures of the Winnebago and Omaha communities. You will also learn about the social issues including, poverty, education, and addiction. “Nestled in the rolling hills of the northeast corner of Nebraska is St. Augustine Indian Mission and School. St. Augustine Indian Mission has served the Native American people of the Winnebago and Omaha Tribes since 1909.Through the years it has touched the lives of thousands of Native American children and impacted the lives of their families.” – St. Augustine Mission website.

Relevant Website: St. Augustine Indian Mission, CCSJ Poverty/Economic Justice Priority


Reflection Book for Family, Friends, and Supporters of Service & Justice Trips Participants

Group Photo Small
This Fall Break we have over 210 students making a grand journey; They are going on a Service & Justice Trip to one of 26 host communities across the country, making it our biggest Fall program yet. These communities are opening their arms, their hearts, and their lives, to welcome the Creighton students, to serve alongside them, and to help them immerse themselves into the local culture. Over the last 30+ years of Service & Justice Trips, countless students have been transformed by these experiences, but we have never had an opportunity for parents, family members,and supporters to reflect like the students over the course of the week. This year, we have put together a reflection book for those who aren’t going on a trip. This book has a reflection for each day based around the seven pillars that structure our program (service, solidarity, justice, community, simplicity, sustainability, and reflection),  as well as a reflection on gratitude and one on joy. We hope you enjoy your week and we thank you for being a supporter of the Service & Justice Trips program.


Download the Fall 2014 Service & Justice Trips Reflection Book




Fall Break 2014 Send-off Service



Members of the campus community are invited to help mission Fall Break Service & Justice Trips as students prepare to leave for our largest Fall Break program yet. Join us as we pray with and send off the groups from 9:00 to 10:00 pm on Thursday, October 16th in St. John’s Church. Refreshments will follow in Lower St. John’s.


Taking on the Rockies

1912378_10152208827572870_834156329_nI pushed open the doors, stepped foot inside the St. Francis Center in Denver, Colorado, and took a gasping breath. I turned my head up and was greeted by the sight of around 700 people staring at me. I could only think of one word to describe how I felt: intimidated. Feeling that many eyes on me, I decided to turn right and walk up to the desk that was labeled “Intake.” As I reached the desk, I was greeted with a smile and a few words, “Is this your first time here?” It hit me, then, that you never realize who you are until you are mistaken for someone else. It didn’t matter where I was from, what ethnicity I was, how old I was, ANYONE could be homeless, because it could happen to ANYONE. Make no mistake about it, I was not offended. I gained insight. I knew then how much I was about to discover.

The St. Francis Center is a homeless day shelter that provides mail services, a clothing room, access to a phone, storage, and other basic necessities like showers and laundry. All of the Denver group got split into pairs for the first two days and were assigned a location. My partner, Eric Stanek, and I were a bit disoriented as we walked into the staff break room, awaiting a coordinator to tell us further directions. After about twenty minutes we were equipped with name tags, and given our first job, the clothing room.

This was a more one-on-one interaction with the guests. Our job was to stand behind one of the counters and get t-shirts, underwear, and pants from the shelves according to what size the customers wanted. Of course being a girl, when a man is saying size 36 x 32 you are absolutely distraught over what this means. I tried to make small talk with them, smile and tell a joke. Relating to the guests was a way I could give back, let them know I wanted to be their friend, not just give them things. Like a mutually beneficial relationship, I slowly let myself gain knowledge from these people who were, in many ways, probably wiser than me. You don’t expect them to offer you anything, you are there to serve, but you acquire understanding from real events, from real people and their experience.

Our next work site for the day was at mail services. It was chaotic but worthwhile. One of my most distinct recollections was of a man named Thomas. Like every other person that came up to the window, Thomas told me his full name and asked politely if I could check his mail. I examined his I.D. to verify his name and went to search. Three minutes went by before I returned with his mail. I handed him his envelopes and wished him a nice day with a smile. He took the letters from me and said with sincerity, “Thank you Gwen. Heaven must really be missing their angel.”

He walked away while I was still in bit of a state of disbelief. I have reflected on that moment dozens of times since then, each time realizing something new. He wasn’t trying to be cliché; he was stating his gratitude for my aid. I learned that something as small as having an address to have your items mailed to, something that we might take for granted, could mean so much for someone. I found that the power of a smile might be enough to shine a light on how one person cares for you. Most importantly, I grasped how going on my service trip might not change the world, but I could make an impact, even a small one, even on just a single person.

Reflecting on your trip is a great method to experience it through the past of what happened, the present of what you learned, and the future of how you want to take that and let it change you. Being intimidated is a scary thing. No one ever really wants to be put in a situation where they don’t have full control. Sometimes you just need to let go and experience. St. Francis Center did intimidate me when I first entered, but the wisdom it has given me will continue to assist me in my future endeavors, especially service.

Gwen McElhattan
Class of 2017
College of Arts & Sciences
SBSJT 2014 Trip Participant



The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.