November 04, 2022 | By Elizabeth Egan, ’23
Serving meals at a soup kitchen in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood or building wheelchair ramps for local community residents are just a few examples of how students at St. Bonaventure University break away from their familiar environment and helping others.
Bona’s Break the Bubble program, offered by the Franciscan Center for Social Concern (FCSC), is an opportunity for students to venture beyond campus boundaries and help disadvantaged and underrepresented populations.
Valentina Cossio, an accounting major from Florida, traveled as a freshman with eight other students to the St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. The restaurant-style soup kitchen has been serving the poor and homeless since 1979.
“Helping out at the hostel was a highlight of my freshman year,” Cossio said.
During the seven-day service trip, Cossio formed a daily routine. She arrived in the kitchen early in the morning to help prepare homemade sandwiches, donuts, coffee and juice.
“The hostel really makes sure to give people options,” Cossio said. “It’s important that people feel like they at least have a say in what they eat every day.”
Guests were coming in and Cossio was serving on an assembly line. People could eat indoors or take their food to a courtyard.
After breakfast, Cossio and the other volunteers helped clean up and did some organizing in the kitchen. Then it was time to get ready for lunch where up to 200 people could arrive for a seated meal in the dining room. By comparison, a busy day for St. Bonaventure’s soup kitchen, the Warming House, might be closer to 70 guests.
After finishing work for the day, the group engaged in mission interviews with the brothers who run the soup kitchen.
“During these discussions, we discovered the humanity behind a soup kitchen,” Cossio said.
Cossio brought those lessons back to St. Bonaventure with her, as she currently works as a coordinator at the Warming House.
Students also have the opportunity to make a difference closer to campus.
This year, FCSC invited freshmen to campus a week early to get involved in the community before starting their first semester.
Sullivan Murphy, an environmental studies major from West Seneca, New York, and Conor Amendola, a media studies major from Erie, Pennsylvania, were among 14 freshmen who participated.
Activities included preparing and serving meals at the Warming House, helping maintain Mount Irenaeus, and building wheelchair ramps with BonaResponds in the Olean area.
“I think we’ve done a lot for the community this week,” Murphy said. “We’ve made it easier for people to get into their homes, we’ve helped feed people, and overall we’ve strengthened the Bonnies community by coming to campus early and creating a group of people who are ready to help people. others.”
“Freshman Service Week not only allowed us to experience the community early on, but also to take on a leadership role within the FCSC.” Amendola said.
In the past, Break the Bubble has been involved in a wide range of service projects, including trips to Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community in rural West Virginia transforming lives through a service retreat experience; Saint’s Place in Rochester, New York, which provides assistance to refugees; and the Valley of the Angels Orphanage in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
To help raise funds and awareness for the Break the Bubble program and other outreach ministries, FCSC will be hosting its annual #GivingTuesdayatBonas campaign on November 29. More information on how you can support students serving the local and global community will be available through November.