Inspired by Adam Braun’s story “The Promise of a Pencil,” St. Bonaventure University students took a trip to Saint’s Place in Rochester, N.Y., to volunteer both their time and creativity.
Eleven students traveled with Sr. Suzanne Kush, C.S.S.F., director of the university’s Franciscan Center of Social Concern, ready and eager to start their projects for the day. Saint’s Place is a volunteer organization that provides household goods, clothing, and education to legal refugees of all races and creeds who settle in the Rochester area to escape violence, discrimination and poverty.
“The purpose of the trip was to connect the freshmen to the All Bonaventure Reads book,” said Sr. Suzanne. The Class of 2018 collected an overwhelming amount of school supplies to provide to Saint’s Place and the refugees that they assist.”
The students brought more than 120 St. Bonaventure bags full of school supplies with crayons, folders, scissors, notebooks, markers and writing supplies.
“Braun’s book highlighted how important it is for children to have access to education,” said Chris Brown, director of St. Bonaventure’s First-Year Experience program and Orientation. “This service project allowed our freshmen to see first-hand some of the barriers to schooling that exist, and work to erase those barriers.”
Once the school supplies were distributed, the student volunteers were ready to begin their projects for the day. Half of the students worked at the Clothing Closet and the other students assisted in the setup for a Bhutani family living in the city of Rochester.
The students at the Clothing Closet assisted 10 Burmese children to select warm clothing for the winter.
“I personally worked with a 13-year-old girl in the clothing donation room,” said Haylei John, an SBU freshman from Salamanca who is studying international studies and Spanish. “Though she was a refugee from Thailand, we found many similarities between us. I also met a 9 year old who could speak five different languages fluently. Each of the children astounded me with their intelligence and bright personalities.”
The remaining students put their creative side to good use as they helped a Bhutani family of five settle into their new home. The students cleaned the apartment, unpacked the family’s belongings and put the finishing touches on the home for the refugees who have long sought a safe haven.
“Having the opportunity to help the refugees at Saint’s Place was a true experience of the Franciscan Heritage, which extends to all people through love, service, humility and community,” said Rachael Herrmann, a senior business management major from Buffalo.
The students will be returning in late March.
"Saint’s Place benefits so much from this ongoing relationship with St. Bonaventure University,” said a member of Saint’s Place. “The students bring new ideas, keen insights and lots of energy.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
Application forms, procedures and additional information
There are many ways to experience
St. Bonaventure for yourself
Learn more about the programs that interest you