Niagara University, nationally recognized as a leader in service learning, recently welcomed nearly 30 students back to campus after the group spent time in Philadelphia and Panama. The trips are run through the university’s Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) program, and give students the opportunity to travel to urban or rural areas to work side-by-side with the poor in Vincentian communities.
Eleven students traveled to Panama for the BASIC trip to work with the Vincentian Missions in Panama City, Balboa, Colon, Santa Clara, Puerto Armuelles and Soloy. Most of the work the students provided during the 11-day trip was at an orphanage in Malambo.
In Philadelphia, 10 Niagara students worked in the Germantown section of Philadelphia at the Vincentian Academy, St. Catherine’s Infirmary for the retired Vincentians, Soup Kitchen, and Inn Dwelling, which is similar to Habitat for Humanity. Nine NU students worked at the Blessed Sarnelli Community in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, primarily focusing on street ministry and construction work.
A major component of the BASIC trips is a spiritual reflection, which is held every night.
Niagara draws inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul, who organized his contemporaries to respond compassionately to people’s basic needs. Continuing this tradition, Niagara seeks to inspire its students to serve all members of society, especially the poor and oppressed, in local communities and in the larger world. BASIC is one component of Niagara’s nationally recognized service learning program. Each year, NU students record over 50,000 hours of community service.
Because of this commitment to the community, Niagara was one of only 30 colleges nationwide named as a U.S. News and World Report “Top College” in the area of Service Learning, and NU has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since its inception in 2006.