Service Immersion Trips
Our Christian Service Immersion Program has been running since the mid 1990s with several different partner organizations over the years. The two most stable relationships have been with the Center for Working Families in Ecuador and Appalachia Habitat for Humanity in Tennessee.
- Trip Information & Application
- Forms & Travel Information
- Support Service Immersion Trips
- Photo Galleries
- The Story
What are the projects all about?
The Christian Service Trips are about serving those living in poverty and trying to understand what Jesus was asking of us when he said, “Love your neighbor.” The experience is about living together as a community centered on the person of Jesus Christ. In order to do this, components of prayer, community living, simplicity and service to others are all important aspects of the week. When working in the community, we are not there to impose our values and standards of living on those we serve. Most volunteers leave feeling they are taking home more than they have given because the people they work with are rich in spirit, family values, pride and faith.
What can you expect from a typical day?
We rise early and begin our day with prayer to center out thoughts and motives. After prayer in Appalachia, we have breakfast together before heading out to the worksites. Lunches are packed in the morning and eaten at the work sites. Some jobs entail roofing, insulation, painting, digging for septic systems, framing new houses, vinyl siding, plumbing, etc. (no prior experience is needed, the work site coordinators teach you everything). At the work sites, volunteers are encouraged to visit the people with whom they are working. Once back at the volunteer housing, time can be spent journaling, hiking, swimming, playing games, napping or spending time with friends. There are no TVs or cell phones, though. Some nights we have friends from the area join us for dinner, or we travel to join them. After dinner, we share in evening prayer together. In Ecuador, mornings are spent touring various programs associated with the Working Boys’ Center. Afternoons are spent in the village getting to know neighbors, tutoring in after-school programs and playing soccer. Several work projects are scheduled for the week along with a weekend trip to a local town.
Appalachia Habitat for Humanity in Robbins, Tennessee (open to current sophomores and juniors)
Appalachia Habitat for Humanity is one of the oldest Habitat affiliates. They do new home construction, providing lower income people with affordable homes. Homeowners are required to do 500 sweat equity hours with Habitat, and receive a 30-year no interest mortgage on the home. Participants will work each day on a new Habitat home sponsored by Fordham Prep.
Center for Working Families in Quito, Ecuador (open to current juniors only)
Center for Working Families (CFWF) is a human development project founded in 1964 by Fr. John Halligan, SJ, a graduate of Fordham Prep. The Center operates two sites in Quito, serving over 2,000 people each day. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the WBC services, and play a key role in assisting the Ecuadorian staff with services to families. Volunteers work in a variety of areas including the day care center, accredited school education program, vocational training, small business management and home building.
APPLYING FOR A SERVICE IMMERSION TRIP
Applicants should be aware of the following:
- There are limited number of spots available for each trip.
- A 7-10 ten day service immersion trip requires the participants to make many personal sacrifices to which they may not be accustomed. The ideal candidate will embrace these sacrifices as part of what it means to live in solidarity with the poor. Candidates should also have the ability to interact with their peers and adults in a positive way and a willingness to move outside of their comfort zones.
- Applications are available each year in November and candidates are selected based on the quality of their essay and feedback given by the Prep faculty. Please note that poor disciplinary standing can adversely affect a candidate’s chance to be selected for a trip.
- If selected for a trip, each participant is required to attend several formation meetings throughout the year and participate in fundraising which include soliciting donations from family and friends, and bake sales.
Please complete the application using the link below.
Please note: You must be logged into your Fordham Prep Google account to access the application.
The preliminary online application deadline is Thursday December 1st, 2022.
For those who submitted the preliminary application due by December 1st, submit the parental permission form and essay to Mr. Ritter in room 325 no later than 3 pm on Tuesday, December 6th.
Essay Guidelines: In no more than 750 words, share why you wish to be involved in one of these projects. Be sure to address the following.
- your understanding of the connection between faith and service
- what unique gifts you feel you can bring to this experience
- any anticipated challenges you would need to overcome
Please do not email essays. Only printed essays will be accepted. Submitting this form and/or essay late will adversely affect your application. Do not include your name anywhere on your essay submission; only use your student identification number.
Trip selections will be sent home through the mail by the end of December. If selected for a trip, please be aware of the following.
- The cost for participants to cover transportation, lodging and food for each trip is as follows - Tennessee: $550, Ecuador: $850
- The newly-established Mothers' Club scholarship is available to those who request financial assistance with the participation fee and/or fundraising expectations.
A mandatory organizational meeting for both parents and participants will take place in January.
Appalachia Habitat for Humanity, Tennessee:
June 18-24 (current juniors)
June 25-July 1 (current juniors)
July 30-August 5 (current sophomores)
August 6-12 (current sophomores)
August 13-19 (current juniors)
Center for Working Families, Ecuador:
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We want to hear from you!
Please share your reflections on your experience serving on a Christian Service Immersion program in Appalachia or Latin America.
Share your reflection by filling out the form.
In the summer of 1994, eight Prep students traveled to a small town in the Appalachian Mountain Region of West Virginia to work with an organization called Nazareth Farm, building and repairing homes for families in need. Those students did not know at the time that they would be the pioneers who would launch Fordham Prep’s Appalachia Program, now known as the Christian Service Immersion Program. Moved by their experience at Nazareth Farm, they returned to the Prep and ignited a program that has enabled thousands of students to answer the call to be “for and with others” in West Virginia, Kentucky, Upstate New York, Tennessee, Mexico, Ecuador and Camden, New Jersey. Partnering with organizations such as Nazareth Farm, St. Francis Farm, Sharing with Appalachia People (SWAP), Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), Appalachia Habitat for Humanity, The Romero Center, Community Links International, Rostro de Cristo and the Center for Working Families (CFWF), Prep students have answered the Gospel imperative show their love “in deeds rather than words,” as St. Ignatius insisted.
While impacting the lives of hundreds of families, our students have also been transformed in so many ways by these experiences. They have learned that Christ can most easily be found when one lives in compassion and solidarity with those in need, that young people can bring hope and healing to places of poverty and injustice, that the persons who are poor have much to teach us about the inherent dignity of all people, and ultimately, that there is no “us and them,” only us.
As the program’s longest and most consistent partner, Appalachia Habitat and the Scott county community have welcomed thousands of Prep students into their ministry. Working with Appalachia Habitat, the Prep to date has built 31 homes for low income families in Scott and Morgan Counties and donated over two million dollars to fund these projects.