‘Men and women for others’

Published 10:22 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thirteen students from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., are visiting Suffolk this week to do community service at Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church on Pine Street. Pictured in the church’s fellowship hall are, from left, Anthony Russo, Emily Conn, Adam Bullock, Amanda Snow, Aliona Olaru, Emily Muldoon, Caitlin Pollard, Rosie Henry, Cassie Maimie, Kamele Shizuru, Carla Burns, Erin Hillis and Tim Konola.

Thirteen students from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., are visiting Suffolk this week to do community service at Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church on Pine Street. Pictured in the church’s fellowship hall are, from left, Anthony Russo, Emily Conn, Adam Bullock, Amanda Snow, Aliona Olaru, Emily Muldoon, Caitlin Pollard, Rosie Henry, Cassie Maimie, Kamele Shizuru, Carla Burns, Erin Hillis and Tim Konola.

Thirteen students from a Massachusetts college that encourages its students to be “men and women for others” are doing exactly that in Suffolk this week.

The students from College of the Holy Cross are participating in the school’s Spring Break Immersion program, which sends students in groups across the country to tackle community service projects. The Suffolk group is based at Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church on downtown’s Pine Street, sprucing up the fellowship hall and renovating a home next door that the church hopes to use to house a homeless family.

Adam Bullock paints in a house next door to Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church that the church hopes to use to house a homeless family. Bullock and a dozen other students from College of the Holy Cross came to Suffolk to serve during their spring break.

Adam Bullock paints in a house next door to Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church that the church hopes to use to house a homeless family. Bullock and a dozen other students from College of the Holy Cross came to Suffolk to serve during their spring break.

Students in the group could have spent their spring break relaxing or partying, but they said the option they chose is much more refreshing.

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“Even though we’re helping them, they’re helping us spiritually,” said Rosie Henry, the leader of the group and a senior who has done the program all four years of her college career. “We learn from the community. They have showed us kind of a passion for life.”

Students from the college are placed in groups randomly after being accepted, so it’s not guaranteed they’ll be with their best friends.

“A few people in the group sort of knew each other from classes,” Henry said.

The students are encouraged to attend a worship service while in town, which they did at Macedonia on Sunday. They’re also encouraged to see cultural attractions and will be taking a tour of Suffolk on Thursday. They sleep in sleeping bags on pews or on the floor in the sanctuary. In the evenings they have reflections and devotions.

Even though they work hard all day and often stay up late talking, Henry said, the experience is refreshing.

“Our school’s motto is, ‘We’ll be men and women for others,’” she said. “This experience allows you to be men and women for others.”

A group from the school came to Macedonia last year and started window and sheetrock work at the house. This year’s group hopes to finish the work and also is brightening up the church’s fellowship hall with new paint in their school colors, purple and white.

They’re being supervised by Chris Nevis, one of the trustees of the church.

“We’re real grateful,” he said. “We always get a fun set of kids, and I try my best to keep them all laughing.”

Sophomore Carla Burns did the program in her freshmen year, volunteering in Kentucky, and she came to Suffolk this year.

“I had such a great experience,” she said. “My favorite part is taking the time to get to know people.”

Pastor Derrall Wade said the project is “all about ministry and showing the love of Christ. If we can get this house completed and put a homeless family in it, what a way of showing Christ.”