Members of Dr. Lupien’s Cross-Cultural Psychology class at Hilbert College completed a service learning project in collaboration with Journey’s End Refugee Services. Journey’s End is a Christian organization aimed at meeting the needs of area immigrant and refugee families, many of whom have come to this country from regions in crisis. The agency’s mission is to welcome refugees without regard to ethnic origin or creed and to assist them to become healthy, independent, contributing members of the community.
The class, aided by a few members of the Freudian Slips psychology club, provided a valuable service, collecting much needed household items and setting up an apartment for two refugees as they arrived to safety in the United States. Five weeks prior to the move-in date on November 7th, the students, which included Lauren Brown, Courtney Bryant, Courtney Coots, Brittany Correia, Nathan Decker, Kristina Gemza, Megan Holcomb, Brittany McNeil, Brandi Pacyon, Karleigh Perry, and Jaclyn Morgan, worked to collect the necessary items to furnish and decorate the refugees apartment in Buffalo. Items were graciously donated by many members of the Hilbert family, including faculty, staff, students, and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. Among the items donated were kitchen utensils, pots and pans, dishes, silverware, a couch, lamps, tables, chairs, sheets, blankets, cleaning supplies, food items, and a TV and DVD player.
As the move-in date approached, the class learned that there were two men from Somalia who would be moving into the apartment, and thus items were tailored to meet the specific needs of these men. In the final week, the students held a bake sale raising over $230 to purchase the rest of the needed items for the home. Upon arrival of the move in date, the Hilbert volunteers (Lauren Brown, Courtney Coots, Nathan Decker, Ethan Kenyon, Jaclyn Morgan, Dr. Lupien, Service Learning Coordinator Rachel Wozniak, and Director of Student Activities Tommy Vane) loaded the collected items into several vehicles and transported them to the apartment in Buffalo. The volunteers arrived at the apartment and got right to work. After a several hours of cleaning, setting up, and organizing, the once empty apartment was transformed into a cozy and comfortable space for the refugees.
One student, Jaclyn Morgan, shares her thoughts about the project. “We are so lucky here in the United States to feel happy and safe in our homes. I can’t imagine how a place like this might feel to someone coming from across an ocean to a brand new environment, so we did everything we could to make the apartment inviting. I hope that when the refugees arrive, the materials that were brought by the volunteers make them feel safe and somewhat at home. It must be so scary to come to another country when you do not know anyone and do not speak the language. I am glad we could at least give them a place to call home.”