Spring service trips bring students closer to mission

Faith, learning and service are the three pillars of education at Waynesburg University. One way the university encourages students to make connections between all three is through service trips. Over the university’s spring break, students traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Concord, North Carolina to serve.

Rea Redd, director of Eberly Library, led five students to Gettysburg in order to work with Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association’s Daniel Lady Farm, the Adams County Historical Society and Adams County Rescue Mission. Redd has been leading service trips to Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and Antietam battlefield in Maryland since 2015.

“My favorite part is watching the students respond to being in a place hearing things they’ve never heard or seen before,” Redd said. “Some things that are familiar to me but are brand new for people, to see that and how the top of their heads sort of lift off a little bit. That’s what I enjoy.”

Dr. Chad Sherman, associate professor of communication, led 10 students to Concord, North Carolina to serve the Cabarrus County chapter of Habitat for Humanity. This was Sherman’s ninth trip to Concord.

“In general with any service trip, connecting students to the Christian mission of the university,” Sherman said. “Introducing students to service, the ability to get their hands on in a way that improves the world.”

Both Sherman and Redd have interests in the areas of their trips and the educational aspect of the service. In Gettysburg, students were guided on an instructional tour about Union sharpshooters and their role during the Battle of Gettysburg.

“I really enjoyed the guide [Joe Mieczkowski] and when we asked him to do the sharpshooters tour. For me that was some new information; he organized it very well. He brought it up to day three at Pickett’s Charge,” Redd said. “That was pretty neat.”

Sherman noted a passion for the work of Habitat for Humanity and enjoyed aiding in student education about their cause.

“I am really passionate about Habitat and the way they operate and how they help people with housing scarcity issues,” Sherman said. “Introducing students to the great work that Habitat is doing and a lot of them either get involved the next year with the same trip or here locally or at their home chapter, which is always great to see.”

Kelley Hardie, assistant dean of student services and coordinator for both trips, stayed at the university over break to troubleshoot any issues either group could potentially encounter. Hardie said there were no significant issues this year and said she is encouraged by what she has heard about both trips.

“I’m hearing positive feedback from both student participants and the trip leaders,” Hardie said. “So, I think they went very well.”

Redd mentioned that the work students do on these trips being well received by the organizations students serve.

“Waynesburg, since 2015, has impressed people every trip,” Redd said. “They look at us like, ‘We didn’t think you’d get all that done in such a short time.’ So this year it was really good to see a smaller group really work as hard as anyone else and the look on people’s faces when they come by to check on us.”

Everything else aside, Sherman noted that service trips are a great way for students to break from their normal routine and try something new.

“It’s always great taking students who are so focused on their studies and test scores,” Sherman said. “Getting them hands on, actually swinging hammers and doing things physically rather than just mentally.”