Gannon Students, Staff and Faculty Seek Social Justice

Washington tripPosted: May 21, 2012

Fresh off a tiring week of taking final examinations, giving presentations and writing papers, more than 20 Gannon University students recently traveled to Vanceburg, Ky., and to Washington, D.C. to focus on social justice and service.

The participating students and their staff leaders made the trips in accordance with Gannon’s mission of service and volunteerism.

More about the trip to Vanceburg, Ky. 

Susan Haarman, associate director, Campus Ministry, was the staff leader. She and 13 students traveled to Glenmary Farm, a Catholic missionary organization that has been an integral part of life in Lewis County, one of the poorer counties in Kentucky, for more than 40 years.

The Glenmary Group Volunteer program is based at the farm and has attracted thousands of college and high school students interested in missionary service.

Simplicity was the focus of the trip, partially in that students were not permitted to use cellular phones or other electronic devices. The students also spent considerable time in reflection and prayer. “The idea was for the students to unplug for a week so that they could truly immerse themselves in the trip and focus on reflection and concepts like community,” Haarman said.

In addition, she and the students visited with residents of a nearby nursing home, volunteered at a food bank and helped with residential construction efforts.

More about the trip to Washington, D.C. 

Carolyn Knox, assistant professor, physician assistant program, was the staff leader. Service and social justice was the focus for Knox, eight students and Mary Jean Taylor, an adjunct faculty member in Gannon’s physical therapy program and wife of Gannon President Keith Taylor, Ph.D. 

During the week, the group stayed at the Father McKenna Center, a drop-in center for homeless men in the Washington, D.C. area. The center serves the “poorest of the poor,” including many who suffer from mental illness and addictions.

The students and staff visited with the men who come to the center and performed service, including preparing and serving meals. In addition to the Father McKenna Center, the trip included visits to three other sites:

  • Food & Friends, an organization that provides meals, groceries and other assistance to individuals with life-challenging illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and cancer. The volunteers prepared and delivered meals. At Food & Friends, Gannon’s volunteers were joined by Dana Fallon, president of Gannon’s Alumni Association.
  • Joseph’s House, a hospice for homeless men and women dying of AIDS and cancer.
  • The National Coalition for the Homeless. The coalition seeks to prevent and bring an end to homelessness and to protect the rights of the homeless through advocacy.

“The trip was designed to help move the students toward a compassionate and critical understanding of social justice issues and Catholic social teaching,” said Jessie Hubert, assistant director of the Gannon University Center for Social Concerns.

You can view photos from the trips here: