Finding God on Gannon’s campus: Writer reflects on service in Detroit, extends thanks to community


Editor’s note: The following piece was modified from the ‘Gannon University’s Detroit ABST’ blog post on March 3.

During spring break, I was lucky enough to partake in an Alternative Break Service Trip to Detroit alongside 11 other students and faculty from Gannon University.
The week was such an amazing experience as we worked alongside members of Earthworks, an urban garden that grew vegetables as a part of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
It is obvious that God has had an impact on the hearts, minds and spirits of the individuals of this city.
Here is a little thank you letter to Detroit from our blog that truly captures the feelings we all felt:
“Thank you for inviting us into your community. From the minute that we arrived that first day, we all knew that the stereotypes we expected would be torn apart. You smiled at us on the streets and greeted us every morning while working at Earthworks. You provided us with wonderful baked goods and inspirational messages to keep our energies up. On our final night of reflection, we talked about how one word is ‘homey,’ because that’s what Detroit has been for us for the week.
Thank you for inspiring us to find beauty in hidden places — from brick wall murals to junk piled together on the side of the street. We saw the wonder in growing plants from little seedlings to a magnificent crop.
Thank you for providing us with energy at our lowest points. The choir at Sacred Heart rejuvenated our souls.
Lunches with the characters at [the] Capuchin Soup Kitchen made us connect closely to the community there — and provided us with lots of funny stories.
Thank you for making us aware of all that we are fortunate enough to have. In the middle of our trip, a water crisis caused us to see how much we need these items, such as food, water and shelter. Everyone deserves these things.
We cannot divide ourselves into classes as it was seen at the 8 Mile wall. We must break down those walls and realize the true value in each human being.
Thank you for educating us about so much. From queen bees to the history of Detroit to Motown, I felt that we learned more than we thought possible. Maybe the reason we were so tired each night is due to the fact that our minds were full of information.
Thank you for letting us connect with our roots. On the first day at Earthworks, Shane mentioned how our ancestors connected with the earth by planting.
This week we experienced that. Many of us are inspired to continue farming in the future.
Thank you for providing us with a sense of peace. Sitting on the beach at Belle Isle was an intimate moment as we saw the juxtaposition of a deindustrialized city on one side of the water and nature on the other. This moment provided an unspoken bond between all of us that can’t be broken.
Words can’t really explain how we feel about this community now.
However, if there is one thing I have learned from mission trips, it’s that the service performed impacts the individuals doing it more than those helped. So, here we are saying thanks to you.
We now represent the love of Detroit in other areas of the United States. As we saw posted around the city, ‘Believe there is good in Detroit.’ And oh my goodness, is there greatness here.”
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