Students and faculty live Goal Three through service in Alabama


Olivia Caponiti '23

Seven Sacred Heart community members enjoy their experiences in Alabama.

A group of four Sacred Heart Greenwich students and three faculty members traveled beyond King Street this summer to immerse themselves in catholic service and historical enrichment in Selma and Moses, Alabama June 5 to 10.  They spent a week volunteering at summer camps and learning about the history of Selma by visiting famous sites and museums.  Mr. Kevin Williamson, Upper School Photography Teacher, and senior Laura O’Connor expressed that the trip was a special experience because it allowed them to put their faith and knowledge into practice by helping people who still face racial discrimination and poverty in the wake of American history.  

Mrs. Kerry Bader, Director of Mission Integration, Director of Upper School Community Service and Campus Ministry, and Upper School Theology Teacher, led the trip alongside Ms. Souad Malih, Upper School Arabic and French Teacher, and Mr. Williamson.  The cohort of students and faculty worked with middle school-aged impoverished children from Selma through a summer camp in conjunction with the Edmundite Missions, a Catholic program that works to meet the needs of those living in poverty in the Deep South.  The students engaged in many activities, such as preparing for drama performances, playing sports, and taking photos.  Mr. Williamson reflected on how getting to know the children was the most meaningful part of the trip for him.  

Senior Vivi Caruso, Laura, and Mr. Williamson smile for a photograph with five campers in Selma.  Courtesy of Laura O’Connor ’23

“I think there are a lot of ways that you can understand the history of Selma by reading about it or going to see the place, but working with the people, specifically the children, was the thing that really impacted me the most,” Mr. Williamson said.  “I was able to really see the effects of the entire history of the South and its impact on everyone there today, and just seeing how the children wanted people to care for them was really meaningful.”  

After their time in Selma, the group traveled to the Edmundite Missions’ smaller camp in Moses.  These campers were younger and the camp was in a more rural environment.  They ate lunch, gardened, and made crafts with the children.  They also participated in a water balloon toss, played on the playground, and participated in other summer camp activities.  Laura commented on how the kids’ excitement when they arrived impacted her.  

“Some of the children were traveling more than an hour to get to the camps, which demonstrates how influential it was to them and how these opportunities are not found often in poor rural communities,” Laura said.  “This camp that we volunteered at was filled with so much joy every day because the kids were constantly excited to try the new activities and get to know us as people.  While Sacred Heart plans many fundraisers and organized donations, I wanted the opportunity to do hands-on work, so I found it to be incredibly rewarding to spend time with these children in an area that can oftentimes be forgotten.”

The group visited Mr. John Lewis’ grave and learned about his long-lasting impact on American history.  Courtesy of Laura O’Connor ’23

In addition to volunteering, the trip consisted of educational activities for the members, such as a tour of Selma and a visit to segregated cemeteries.  They also traveled to Montgomery towards the end of the trip to visit the Legacy Museum to learn about the history of slavery in the United States and its long-lasting effects on society.  Mr. Williamson discussed how this trip aligned with Goal Three of the Sacred Heart Greenwich Goals and Criteria, “a social awareness which impels to action.”  

“What I really love about this goal is that there is action at the end of the sentence,” Mr. Williamson said.  “We are not just educating ourselves to have all this social awareness, which is a good thing, of course, but if we are not doing something about it then we are not doing as much as we can.  If we continue to go back to Selma, we can work with them and figure out what they really need so that we can act on the social awareness that we have.”  

Featured Image by Olivia Caponiti ’23