LAKE TWP. — Incoming Misericordia students got their hands dirty Saturday as they tackled a variety of projects across the Back Mountain as part of the university’s community service initiative.
As part of its four-day orientation, Misericordia’s class of 412 first-year students took part in the Days of Service campaign, volunteering at a total of six different locations.
“Each year we (Misericordia) have a service day,” said Sister Cindy March, whose title is more than a mouthful — coordinator for university initiative for compassionate and mindful living.
“Service is essential to who we are as a school,” March added.
Some first-year students, orientation leaders and faculty advisers visited and volunteered at the Serendipity Therapeutic Riding Center near Harveys Lake.
Students served as side walkers for disabled riders and also completed other projects around the horse farm such as raking hay, pulling weeds and burning wood.
“I hope our students hear the stories of those who are different than themselves,” March said. “They can get a sense to serve and support people in different ways.”
“For college freshmen, it’s important to volunteer,” noted Sarah Russoniello, executive director of the Serendipity center. “It’s allows them to step outside themselves and see how other people live.”
Russoniello oversees the center, which helps children and young adults who have severe physical and emotional issues.
“A lot of our riders experience their world with their limitations,” she said. “For these students, I think their service and experience today should be inspiring to see no matter what your limitation may be, you can still accomplish your goals.”
The students proved to be a big help around the large property.
“I think they did a lot of farm work,” Russoniello said. “It’s a 24-7, 365-day job. I’m just glad in the last year students from Misericordia have come to volunteer here.”
Misericordia sophomore orientation leader Michelle Artuso spoke about the importance of service and how it’s part of her university’s mission.
“You take out what you give in,” said Artuso, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. “I’m amazed at the work the people at Serendipity do here. As an occupational therapy major, I appreciate what they do here.”
Busy, busy, busy
Aside from volunteering at Serendipity, first-year students extended a hand at five other locations.
The freshmen planted trees and bushes at Patriot’s Cove, a fishing retreat for disabled veterans in Noxen. Others cleaned kennels and cut grass around the property of Blue Chip Farm in Dallas.
In Lehman, students volunteered at the Luzerne County Fairgrounds helping with general maintenance, while some washed and painted buildings.
Many others were transported to Shavertown to help at the Lands at Hillside Farms and FARMU, an extension of the school’s Women With Children program.
King’s College and Wilkes University have also established similar volunteering opportunities for first-year students.
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes