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 over the past 25 years. 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), Prep students have answered the Gospel imperative show their love “in deeds rather that 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.
This school year also marks the 20 h anniversary of the program’s partnership with Appalachia Habitat for Humanity in Scott County, Tennessee. 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. To mark this milestone anniversary, the program will hold its first ever alumni-only Tennessee trip in August of 2019.
25th Anniversary Fund for Service Immersion Programs
This special fund will help Fordham Prep sustain current service immersion programs for future generations of Prep students and ensure they are accessible to all students by creating new programs and funding financial aid for students from families of limited means.
Please share your reflections on your experience serving on a Christian Service Immersion program in Appalachia or Latin America here.
1st Tennessee trip August 1999
1st Tennessee Habitat Home Sponsorship 2006
Tennessee through the years
1st Ecuador trip Rostro de Cristo 2002
Ecuador through the years
Camden, NJ through the years
Kentucky Sharing with Appalachian People 1997
Kentucky Christian Appalachian Project 1998
Bay St. Louis, MS Katrina Relief 2007
1st Nazareth Farm trip 1994
Nazareth Farm through the years
1st St. Francis Farm trip 1997
St. Francis Farm 1998 & 1999