Logo
Print this page

'MOVE' at St. Michael's College

Volunteers work in the St. Michael’s organic garden. Submitted Photo Volunteers work in the St. Michael’s organic garden.
Students at St. Michael’s College in Colchester are moving in all directions to help others.
 
Through the MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts) program, they engage in service and justice work in four main areas: working with children and youth, hands-on programs, working to build community and service trips.
 
Working with children includes four formal mentor programs where college students are paired with local youth. Hands-on programs deal with local non-profits to work for animal justice, environmental justice and hunger and homelessness awareness.
 
The programs in working to build community involve spending time with adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, senior citizens, migrant farm workers and others to focus on a service of presence.
 
The service trips are mostly one-week opportunities for students to experience service at sites throughout the country and world. These trips offer students opportunities to engage in service, justice and reflection outside of Vermont. The justice issues identified on the trips parallel the justice work present in local partners.
 
“MOVE exists to expand the concept of community service to embrace social justice and emphasize our connectedness to the world as defined by Catholic social teaching,” explained Lara Scott, associate director of Edmundite Campus Ministry for community services who directs MOVE. “Through our experiences of service, reflection and dialogue, we are compelled to respond through compassionate action, education and advocacy.”
 
Currently there are 62 student leaders to plan and implement MOVE’s 18 weekly local programs and 13 service trips. Nearly 600 students participate in service annually.
 
By graduation, nearly 70 percent of St. Michael’s students participate in MOVE in some way.
 
“We have an amazing opportunity to intersect service, justice and spirituality in MOVE, and our students benefit tremendously from the opportunity to explore all three areas and make meaning of them for their lives,” Scott said. “We have a strong focus on both reflection and leadership development so our students gain skills in collaboration, facilitation, relationship building, meaning making, and the like, from participating once, returning regularly to our programs and/or taking on a formal student leadership role within MOVE.”
 
Students build relationships with peers, get connected in the larger community, are part of meeting needs in the community and therefore are part of social change. “Students find community and sense of belonging, they are able to put faith into action, and they explore their own faith in new and different ways through MOVE,” Scott continued. “MOVE benefits students because we remind students that we are all connected, that we all matter and that each one of us can individually make change.”
 
This all is done in light of the Catholic faith and with Catholic social teaching at the foundation, and MOVE is guided and driven by the Edmundite tradition of hospitality and presence of service.
 
Daniel Ramos, a senior accounting major, is highly engaged in service as a core team leader for the Habitat for Humanity chapter at St. Michael’s. He participates in the extended service programs, Best Buddies, Penguin Plunge and helps plan Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
 
He said working with MOVE has been one of the best experiences he has had: “Working as a leader for Habitat for Humanity, I've learned how to handle responsibilities of leading and organizing trips. I've learned what my role is when supporting causes I believe in. The genuine care and love that I see from the other core team leaders and from the people who work in the MOVE office has had a large influence on the person I've become today.”
 
Volunteering is part of who he is. “The more I've worked with MOVE the more the reason why I volunteer has evolved. After each year has passed I've gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for what MOVE accomplishes,” said Ramos, of Trumbull, Conn. “I volunteer to be a part of the positive change that MOVE brings. By organizing, leading and participating in trips through MOVE, I've been able to bring a positive change to peoples' lives.”
 
The community benefits by having “thoughtful, caring, justice-minded individuals present in their organizations and with those who use their services,” Scott said. “We are regularly present in the local, national and global community working to make change, be present with and serve where needed.” 
 
In 1990, the late Edmundite Father Michael Cronogue founded the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts.
 
It is based on the mission of St. Michael’s College to contribute to the development of human culture and enhancement of the human person in light of the Catholic faith.
 
Service to the poor is part of the heritage and practice of the Society of St. Edmund, the founders of the college.
 
MOVE has been integral to the college career of Erin Buckley, a senior majoring in environmental science with a peace and justice minor from Haddam, Conn. “It has been an opportunity to grow as an individual and as a leader and also reach our to our local community,” she said.
 
Compassion and patience are key in her faith and in her service work.
 
Through the MOVE program she has felt a growing desire to serve others and recognize the dignity of each human being. “My experiences in service have taught me to provide space for people and ecosystems that are often silenced to speak and to be heard. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such loving and challenging individuals,” she said.
 
Last modified onThursday, 09 February 2017 10:25
Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Urban is a longtime writer for the communications efforts of the Diocese of Burlington and former editor of The Vermont Catholic Tribune.

Vermont Catholic Magazine © 2016 Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington