Big Service in the Big Apple

Gardner-Webb University Students Reflect on Recent Service Trip

A group of 16 students from Gardner-Webb University traveled to New York City on their fall break for a trip that combined sightseeing and service. Led by staff members from the GWU Division of Student Development, the team visited landmarks and volunteered in the Big Apple.

“The students were able to see different ways in which they can serve,” reflected Brian Arnold, director of Student Activities, Campus Recreation and New Student Orientation. “We were able to take time to put the needs of others before ourselves.”

While helping the West Side YMCA manage its Fit for All 5K in Riverside Park, the group met actress Drew Barrymore. Students worked as race marshals, manned water stations or the play area, and helped with event tear down. They also spent a day at the Bowery Mission serving meals for the homeless, organizing the pantry, unloading food trucks and working in the clothes closet. Established in 1879, the organization is the oldest homeless/transitional ministry in the country. Some of the places the group visited were the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, Times Square, Central Park, Statue of Liberty and the Rockefeller Center.

Serving at the Bowery was a favorite part of the trip for Austin Childress of Mocksville, N.C. He separated fruit and worked to get the pantry ready for Thanksgiving. “While I did not work directly with the people we were serving, I learned a new perspective of service and a new respect for the behind-the-scenes work,” Childress observed.

Haddie Winters of Lancaster, S.C., had heard about the Bowery from a friend at Gardner-Webb and was excited to see and learn about the ministry. Although she often visits family in New York, she had never been to the city. She enjoyed learning how to get around on the subway and visiting Times Square. “I don't think I was aware of just how diverse New York City is,” she shared.

Learn more about service opportunities available to Gardner-Webb students