Buies Creek--A group of 15 members of Campbell University's Monday Night Bible Study decided to forego sleeping-in and hanging-out with friends for a week during Christmas in order to help the homeless at the Bowery Mission in New York City, Dec. 8-15.
Located in what was once the most desolate part of the city, the Bowery Mission is a nonprofit organization established in 1878 to aid homeless men and women. The Mission serves over 475,000 meals annually and provides shelter, articles of clothing and professional health care for the homeless. It also operates several transitional programs to help get homeless people off the street.
The Campbell students lived in the mission, helped prepare and serve meals, completed organizational projects, such as cleaning the mission pantry, and worked with various other ministries the mission provides.
Robyn van den Berg, a senior Mass Communication major from Richmond, Va., said the trip made her more aware of the fact that everyone, no matter what their circumstances, has a story.
"I saw poverty in its lowest form on this trip," she said. "I think a lot of times we push homeless people aside because they're homeless and can't seem to get their feet back on the ground, but they are people too and they have families just like we do."
Van den Berg, who is currently performing an internship at the Salvation Army in Raleigh, N.C., said she especially liked helping with the Women's Shower Ministry.
"The mission provides toiletries like towels and shower caps once a week for women who live on the street to shower and select clothing from the thrift store free of charge," said van den Berg. The soothing bath caused one woman, who had not bathed in some time, to fall asleep in the shower.
"The Transitional Ministry is the result of a partnership between the Bowery Mission and New York's Department of Homeless Services in which 77 men can participate in a six-to-nine month residential recovery program designed to transition formerly homeless drug-addicted men into independent living. The Bowery provides comprehensive support through counseling, an addiction recovery program and career education and training. The Campbell group also spent some time in Queens, N.Y. serving at another ministry, the Urban Impact Ministry.
Van den Berg said she would like to work with a nonprofit organization like the Bowery Mission when she graduates this May. "Helping the homeless is something I've always been interested in," she said. "I'm passionate about inner city ministry and homelessness is really prevalent in the inner city. The mission trip reinforced for me that I want to do something I'm passionate about when I graduate."
Other students who participated in the mission trip are Kirk Norris, of Elizabeth City, N.C.; Jeremy Laws, of Charlotte, N.C.; Evan Staehle, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C.; Jeff Maddry, of Cary, N.C; Nate Westmoreland, of Wilmington, N.C.; Luke Morales, of Winston-Salem, N.C; Matt Crouch, of Clemmons, N.C.; Amy Phillips, of Waldorf, Md; Abigail Lind, of High Point, N.C.; Kristen Pate, of Clinton, N.C.; Diane McClary, of Mooresville, N.C; Sarah Buck, of Asheboro, N.C.; and Miranda Tarlton, of Charlotte, N.C.