During Crisis, MU Gives Back

By Andrea Fritchey
Staff Writer

Confronting Global Poverty: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally. You’ve probably seen the signs, read the e-mails, heard the hype. But how exactly can we, at Marywood University, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, confront the global community? As stated in Marywood’s Mission Statement, it is our goal to “live responsibly in a diverse and interdependent world.” The best way to affect the world and think globally is to better your own part of the world. Change has to start small.

As we all know, the state of Pennsylvania is in a tailspin. Functioning for more than 80 days without a budget has stamped long-lasting effects on agencies, corporations and individuals. The lack of a state budget has forced soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries and other important social service agencies to cut back on what they can give to the needy. In addition, many nonprofit organizations have had to close their doors completely or deal with heart-wrenching cutbacks just to stay afloat. Scranton has one of the largest and most comprehensive hunger and homelessness programs of any city in the country, therefore these effects are being felt right in Marywood’s backyard.

It’s been said, “There’s no excuse for being truly homeless in Scranton, there’s always somewhere to go to have a hot meal and rest.” Between United Neighborhood Centers, St. Anthony’s Haven, Catherine McCauley Center, St. Francis Soup Kitchen, and St. Joseph’s Mother/Infant Center, our identity at Marywood is echoed in the hunger and homelessness efforts in our city of Scranton. It is the mission of these agencies to provide for those in need, and most importantly, to give them a foundation of support to lift them out of poverty. The problem is that the agencies rely on state-mandated support and donations to provide for thousands of people, and without a state budget, they are operating on a donation-only basis. The truth is, everyone is hurt by our state legislature’s indecision.

Even when a budget is passed, between the planned budget cuts for nonprofit organizations and the severe repercussions of tapping into reserved resources, it will take a significant amount of time for the hunger and homelessness movement to bounce back from this crisis. In this situation, it is our responsibility to do all that we can to help others. Marywood has a plentiful number of opportunities to go out into the community and do hands on service at St. Francis Soup Kitchen, United Neighborhood Centers, St. Joseph’s Mother/Infant Center, and many others. But service doesn’t have to be big; it can be as simple as donating food or volunteering a half-hour to help with a food drive. Just last week, Marywood had its first food drive of the year, an emergency effort to help restock the emptying pantries at Friends of the Poor and Catholic Social Services. With just a week’s notice and an extremely generous school community, Marywood was able to donate over 120 bags of food to these agencies, an amount that could easily feed hundreds of needy in Scranton.

Quite simply, Marywood gives back. Whether it’s within our borders or across the universe, the handprints of our mission are there. If you want to give back, just stop into Campus Ministry and talk to someone; there is always room for another person, and another set of hands to help others.  We are so incredibly fortunate to be part of the Marywood community, and in order to fulfill its mission, we must reach out beyond our borders to serve and empower others.