Students Volunteer at Nonprofits during Interfaith Service Trip

During the Interfaith Service Trip, representatives from Wesleyan volunteered at the Manna House Soup Kitchen in Newtown, N.J.

During the Interfaith Service Trip held over spring break, representatives from Wesleyan volunteered at the Manna House Soup Kitchen in Newtown, N.J.

Wesleyan students and staff traveled to Johnsonburg, N.J., March 18-22 to participate in the fourth annual Office of Religious and Spiritual Life Interfaith Service Trip. The group had representation from the Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim communities.

The student participants included Nacala Gadsden ’21, Joy Adedokun ’19, Fitzroy Pablo Wickham ’21, Brynn Assignon ’20, and Fatima Sepulveda ’21. The trip was led by University Chaplain Rev. Tracy Mehr-Muska and Sandy Durosier ’13, area coordinator for residential life.

“The purpose of the trip was to engage in community service and learn about other faiths,” Mehr-Muska said.

The group stayed at the faith-based Johnsonburg Camp and Retreat Center and volunteered their time at the Barnyard Sanctuary in Johnsonburg; Trinity Methodist Church Thrift Shop in Hackettstown, N.J.; and Manna House Soup Kitchen in Newton, N.J.

“Each of these incredible nonprofits happened to be run by women, and the students were able to see the complexity and rewarding nature of developing and sustaining important, life-giving community organizations,” Mehr-Muska said.

In the evenings, the group gathered to reflect on the day and discuss issues including self-care and learn new spiritual practices. The group also attended a special service at a Jewish temple for the holiday of Purim and had the opportunity to dialogue with the rabbi and community leaders about Judaism.

In addition to spiritual devotional time, the group participated in an array of social gatherings including walking a labyrinth, bowling, journaling, playing volleyball, making decoupage, zip-lining, watching a movie, and making a campfire.

Photos of the Interfaith Service Trip are below:

worked at a farm for nearly seven hundred rescued farm animals,

The group volunteered to work at the Barnyard Sanctuary in Johnsonburg, which houses more than 700 farm animals including goats, donkeys, horses, pigs, chickens, and rabbits.

Students socialized with the animals and cleaned animal stalls.

Yes! It’s an emu egg, and that is Fatima Sepelveda

Fatima Sepulveda ’21 collects an emu egg at the sanctuary.

The group prepped and served food in a soup kitchen.

The group prepped and served food at Manna House Soup Kitchen, which is housed inside the First Presbyterian Church in Newton, N.J.

The mission of Manna House is to feed the homeless, elderly, mentally ill, the lonely, the poor of pocket and the poor in spirit.

The mission of Manna House is to feed the homeless, elderly, mentally ill, lonely, and poor.

They chopped and stacked wood at a local camp.

Students chopped and stacked wood at the faith-based Johnsonburg Camp & Retreat Center. In 1959, the camp was established to provide experiential Christian education in support of the Presbyterian Church in New Jersey.

The group played a few rounds of bowling at Circle Bowl in Ledgewood, N.J.

The group interspersed their interfaith and volunteering events with games and social activities. On March 18, they bowled a few rounds at Circle Bowl in Ledgewood, N.J.

Temple Shalom in Succasunna, NJ.

The group attended a service at Temple Shalom in Succasunna, N.J.

We fit in some spiritual devotional time, decoupage, walking the labyrinth, bowling, volleyball, a campfire with s’mores, a movie, a stop at the M&M Mars facility, and the zipline.

The camp property included a zip line.

On March 22, the group gathered for a group photo at the camp prior to heading back to Connecticut.

On March 22, the Wesleyan crew gathered for a final group photo at the camp prior to heading back to Connecticut.