Giving Back Through Alternative Spring Break: Cardinal Reflections

March 18, 2022

Students pour paint into bucketsSpring Break is typically a time for students to hang out with friends, travel, and relax and recharge for the remainder of the semester. But for a group of UIW students who participated in UIW's Alternative Spring Break, coordinated by the Office of Mission and Ministry, last week was a time to give back. Two students, Justine Delgado and Minnie Delgado, shared their thoughts on the week and the impact it had on them.

Alternative Spring Break is an opportunity to serve your community and earn service hours. It’s also an opportunity to meet new people and discover more about yourself. This spring break, we spent our time at Villa Maria Residence, a residence that aids in providing young women with low-cost housing to pursue their ambitions. There, we assisted the Sisters in prepping and painting around the residence.

Personally, I participated to obtain service hours and help my community. However, I feel I gained more. After volunteering at Villa Maria, I felt more connected to their mission in giving young women opportunities to have a career.

I learned about the issue Villa Maria is trying to address and how passionate I am about it. Moving forward, I want to participate in opportunities addressing the same social issue. Currently, I am helping Villa Maria advertise their services to get the word out there.

I felt satisfied helping the Sisters at Villa Maria, because I know they are serving a larger purpose. With a little work, I felt I was working alongside the Sisters in their mission.

Justine Delgado, '24 | Biology

Alternative Spring break was a volunteering opportunity for students, like myself, to venture out into our community and help those who needed it. During this week, I visited Villa Maria, a home for young woman, and worked on improving their interior living spaces to draw in more people. We painted around a total of six easy-to-paint rooms and four insane rooms that would just not hold the paint!

If I'm being completely honest, I wanted to participate in this because I needed service hours fast, since I'm set to graduate next semester. However, after my first day there, this became so much more than hours needed to graduate. I finally understood the effort and work that these Sisters were constantly putting in just to keep up with the high demands of the world around them.

After a single day there, I felt like for once I belonged somewhere and that I had a place. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and seeing the smiles on their faces from just seeing us be there was crazy. It was amazing to see how happy these people were just from the mere presence of help. It honestly gave me a whole new understanding of how lucky I am to have the support system I was blessed with.

Throughout this week, I learned the difficulties that some people must face and that I am in fact a very blessed person. Just seeing how these Sisters were constantly trying to find ways to make the home more welcoming was such an amazing thing to see. Seeing how they interacted with each other and how they all respected and cared for one another was just beyond what I ever believed imaginable.

I also learned how insanely capable and hardworking the Sisters are; a single room took us almost three days to fully paint and complete. The Sisters, however, painted an entire floor of rooms on their own, and to say I was amazed to see the product of that work would be an understatement. They are such amazing people and it astonished me how humble and considerate they were of all those who volunteered.

After helping paint the rooms at Villa Maria I felt content and like I made a difference and impact on someone. This experience was such a memorable thing, that I honestly was disappointed to see it end. After that first day, it felt like I was on cloud nine. I was on such a high that even the enormous amounts of paint that littered not only my clothes, but hair and face, felt like nothing. The pleasure and happiness that I felt just from seeing the smile on Sister Walter's face each day I showed up made everything worth it. It was like me being there was such a prize, and that was so strange. I honestly have never felt this content and happy after volunteering. I loved every minute of this experience, even if it took days to fully wash all the paint off.

Minnie Delgado, ‘22 | Biology