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McNicholas SVDP Youth Conference encourages active learning and serving

Members of the McNicholas St. Vincent de Paul Youth Conference grew in compassionate leadership during a service learning program at the SVDP Ozanam Center on Tuesday, March 23.

Rockets learned about food insecurity and class gaps, shopped and shared lunch on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) funds, and performed service by gardening and creating t-shirt totes for neighbors.

“We really struggled with the active simulation of buying and preparing lunch for four people in $5 or less. There was not much nutritional value in what we bought,” freshman Audrey Hurlburt said.

Junior Stephanie Schmidt agreed, “It was eye-opening to put myself in others’ shoes and comprehend their way of life a little more. It can be so easy to overlook those who live in poverty, but poverty is real and is something that we can change.”

The McNicholas SVDP Youth Conference, founded this year under the leadership of theology teacher Ms. Teresa Davis, is working to be part of that change. The conference, led by sophomores Autumn Strebel and Noah Novotny and juniors Cloe Jones, Stephanie Schmitt, Andrew Collette, and Jack Spears, is supporting neighbors in need by organizing food drives, reaching out to local nursing homes and Cincinnati Children’s Home, making t-shirt bags for use at local food pantries, and cleaning up at Mt. Washington Cemetery.

The leadership team has been very intentional in making sure that each service opportunity has a learning component attached to it. The conference’s upcoming service at Withrow Nature Preserve, for example, will include reflection on care for God’s creation and information on the benefits of having a diverse forest.

Audrey said, “Being in the SVDP Youth Conference has really encouraged our members to take a step back and observe the world around them. We can get so caught up in our own lives that we forget we are obligated to help those who aren't as fortunate. As Christians, we are called to be salt and light for the earth, and at McNick we are called to strive to grow in full stature towards Christ. SVDP encourages students to do that actively in our community, which has a positive effect on the whole of our society.”

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