SHU Students Take From and Give Back To Bridgeport Community During Annual Curtis Week
A group of 15 students, three student leaders and six staff members from Sacred Heart University participated in this year’s annual CURTIS Week service-immersion program, which ran from January 11 to January 16. CURTIS Week stands for Community Understanding & Reflection Through Inner-City Service, and is named in honor of the Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis, second Bishop of Bridgeport and founder of Sacred Heart University. The program gives participants the opportunity to experience both community service and cultural projects through the collaboration of Volunteer Programs and Campus Ministry.
“The goal of CURTIS Week is to encourage understanding among all people throughout the world, beginning here at home,” said Mark Arnold, Volunteer Programs’ graduate assistant, of the immersion week that takes place leading into the spring semester.
“Not only was CURTIS Week about service to others, but it was also about embracing different cultures and religions,” said Natasha James ‘13. “One aspect that really struck me was the time we spent with students in the RISE program (Reaching Independence through Supported Education) because it really opened my awareness to people with disabilities. They are able to touch the lives of people in such a positive way. They changed my life and, overall, this experience was one that will last a lifetime.” The group also attended services of various religions, took part in a Latin dance lesson and volunteered in soup kitchens, local schools and for a Habitat for Humanity project.
Freshman Kathryn Rezuke described her first CURTIS Week experience as eye opening. “It was my first time participating in Habitat for Humanity and working in the soup kitchens and shelters of Bridgeport. It was very important for me to have a full understanding of the less fortunate in our community. It was truly one of the best retreats I’ve ever been on.”
Maura Cook, assistant director of Volunteer Programs at Sacred Heart said, “the event was successful in breaking down cultural barriers and increasing self awareness among the participants. Students walked away knowing that everyone comes from different walks of life and that judging superficially does not tell you much about a person.”