SHU Hosts 2nd Annual 'Straight from the Heart' Day

News Story: February 1, 2009

For the second April in a row, Sacred Heart University freshmen will fan out across the city of Bridgeport to learn about the needs of the city and see how they might be able to help out. As many as 200 first-year students are expected to participate on Thursday, April 2 – many becoming involved in community outreach for the first time, at least as Sacred Heart students.

Laura Minor, the assistant director of the Student Mentor program for the University, explained that students will be accompanied by three dozen faculty and staff members from every discipline and department at SHU. 'Straight from the Heart’ not only introduces students to the rich assortment of service opportunities available in Greater Bridgeport,” she noted, “it also connects those students with their teachers and advisors in a special and very meaningful way. In fact, it’s a great day for all parts of the SHU community to serve together: faculty, administrators, admin assistants, GA’s, Res Life: you name it, they’re there.”

Students will select service options based on their personal or academic interests – and their schedule. Opportunities will be spread out across the whole day to accommodate as many volunteers as possible at about 20 different locations, most within the city of Bridgeport.

Minor said that some SHU students would be making and serving both breakfast and lunch at the Merton Center, a city soup kitchen. Others will help lead after-school programs at three Bridgeport elementary schools, and another group will paint a world map on the playground of a school. Some will participate in a “buddy breakfast” with participants in the RISE program for developmentally challenged teenagers, and others will help clean up Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo after the ravages of winter. One group will record instances of urban neglect and blight to spur the city and property owners to take notice and make changes; another will recycle used oil drums as waste receptacles by painting them with an artist.

Minor pointed out that Sacred Heart University’s long-standing history of service to the community comes directly from its mission and its tradition. Students are encouraged to learn about the needs of the world around them and then work to address them. This obviously will help the larger community, but it stems from an educational motive as well. The freshman volunteers may see for the first time the unmet needs of the urban poor, they may broaden their sense of career options, and they may deepen their foundations of faith, all at the same time. And they’ll have fun too and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.