Service options open for Spring Break


Contributed photo

Service Learning will take students around the country and Mexico, to exports Mercyhurst’s charitable spirit.

Brittany Smyth, Staff Writer

Mexico, Michigan and North Carolina are among the places students will travel as part of their spring break service learning experience, but don’t worry, you can still sign up.

This year features two Habitat for Humanity trips, two additional service trips and an Erie service experience. All trips fall under the umbrella of Service Learning. Students will be traveling to Monroe, N.C. and Port Huron, Mich. for Habitat for Humanity.

Students will build houses for families in need during these trips. Although many of them have no experience in this type of work, they will have the chance to learn.

“You don’t have to have any construction background. We have a site leader who will teach you anything you need to know,” said Jeremy Hewitt, Habitat for Humanity Advisor.

“It’s fun to see those individual breakthroughs of people trying something new and maybe a little scary for them.”

All of the trips are also open to faculty and staff, allowing them to be part of the construction and service process.

“It is a unique mentoring experience where you’re not just a chaperone but part of the team,” said Colin Hurley, director of community engagement.

For the first time, six students and two faculty members will travel to Mexico in conjunction with the Erie-based nonprofit company, Chosen.

“Students will be working with clinics but also schools doing shadowing work,” said Hurley.

The trip was created specifically for sports medicine and athletic training majors. Before the students arrive, an orthopedic surgeon will be in the area donating his time and services.

“The students will actually get to do the therapeutic follow-ups to an orthopedic surgeon. It really combines community involvement with international connection,” Hurley said.

Students will also have the opportunity to visit popular tourist sites such as the Mayan ruins. The goal is to expand this pilot trip over the next few years and include more people.

“Students will be exposed to some things that are shocking,” Hurley said.

Discussions and team building will be instrumental in helping students express what they are learning through these experiences.

“It’s not easy to go into third world circumstances, going as a team is better,” coordinator of service learning, Bethany Brun said.

Another group of students will travel to Detroit, and work with Gleaners food bank and Neighbors Building Brightmoor. Gleaners food bank is three times bigger than Second Harvest Food Bank, the food bank Mercyhurst students typically volunteer for in Erie.

“We will help with whatever needs they may have. In the past, students have helped build community gardens and hoop houses. This has allowed the community to work the land and raise farm animals,” Brun said.

Students will also have the opportunity to help the Erie community as well.

“Let’s look at our community too. Erie needs a little love,” said Shasta Mullenax, food recovery coordinator for Americorps Vista.

Students will work with the Pennsylvania Soldiers and Sailors and help the elderly in the community. Mullenax hopes to assign themes for each day and have reflections with the students.

There will be an Erie Greenway clean up day where students will clean-up a discarded hot tub in a ravine. There will also be a food recovery day, where food from bakeries and restaurants, that typically end up in the dumpsters, are taken to families and soup kitchens.

“Going in and helping is not necessarily the goal. Connection is. We find we bring back more than we bring to them,” said Greg Baker, campus ministry director.

For more information on the trips, email Bethany Brun at