Five students from Fontbonne Hall Academy participated in a service retreat at the Romero Center in Camden, N.J., from January 29 to February 1.
They spent the weekend with other students from Philadelphia and Boston in an immersion service experience that offered them access to the lives and stories of the people of Camden while allowing them to serve the community through various ministries. Fontbonne Campus Minister Megan Correira initiated the trip and accompanied the group.
The Fontbonne students spent their first day at the Martin Luther King Jr. Child Development Center with children ages two through five. The director of the center spoke to the students about Camden’s low graduation rate, and they learned about the importance of early academic intervention with a focus on reading as a way to increase the school district’s retention rate.
The students spent their second day at the Inglis House, a residence in Philadelphia for people with physical disabilities. The students joined the residents in their recreation room and enthusiastically participated in various activities such as playing UNO, facilitating a poker game and viewing funny YouTube videos.
The students were also given a tour of the city to see the crippling effects that poverty, crime and homelessness have had on the city over time.
Each evening, they returned to the Romero Center where the staff facilitated activities related to the themes of Catholic social teaching. In one particularly difficult yet eye-opening exercise, the students were challenged with the task of feeding themselves for an entire day on just $3, which represented the amount of government assistance given to a person living in poverty for a day’s worth of food.