Salve reaches out in Mercy amidst COVID-19 through local action and remote service opportunities
There is an engraved stone on Salve Regina’s campus just outside the Misto Gatehouse with one of Catherine McAuley’s quotes that many people pass every day. It reads, “The poor need help today, not next week.”
It is with this practical spirit and commitment to the most vulnerable that Salve Regina stands in solidarity with its students, faculty, staff and community members to work on behalf of the common good during the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
While the world currently wrestles with a new pandemic, what many might not know is that Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, had intimate knowledge and experience of serving with compassion during a global pandemic. In 1832, just a few months after the founding of the Sisters of Mercy, the first outbreak of cholera came through Europe and devastated communities more than any disease in the 19th century.
Because of this legacy, Salve Regina and other Mercy institutions remember not just past pandemics but the long-standing momentum and commitment the Sisters of Mercy made to continuously care for the poor, sick and educationally disadvantaged for over 175 years. Salve Regina remains committed to continuing to live its mission within both local and global communities.
Sharing resources, local action and remote service opportunities
The Center for Community Engagement and Service has been working hard throughout the past few weeks to mobilize resources from the University in support of local communities while adhering to the precautions that need to be taken in response to COVID-19.
Center staff Kelly Powers and Kathleen Rendos have worked with Sodexo, Salve Regina’s campus food service, to donate milk, bread, vegetables and paper goods to the Salvation Army. They also sent trays of frozen food, bread, granola bars, chips and utensils to St. Joseph’s Church in Newport. These sites are among the select food pantry sites on Aquidneck Island that are providing outreach to those facing food insecurity during this time.
Toilet paper and toiletries are also in high demand, and the facilities and housekeeping departments at Salve Regina donated toilet paper and toiletries to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center and Newport’s Health Equity Zone. The chemistry department donated much needed gloves to first responders at the Newport Fire Department, as well as medical professionals on Aquidneck Island and in Providence.
Salve Regina students who serve as Service Advocates in the Center for Community Engagement and Service are creating social media support for its community partners. Alexandra Harkness ’20, a Service Advocate, is helping with the Salvation Army, and Darren Christie ’21 is working on communications for Donovan Manor, an affordable housing community in Newport. Service Advocate Katelyn Hewett ’21 is serving her home community in Massachusetts by assisting the YMCA in preparing lunches for local families.
“With schools being cancelled, there are a lot of kids going without meals because they rely on free or reduced lunch at school,” Hewett said. “It doesn’t take big things to make a difference in the community. Something as small as giving a teenager a sandwich can make their day a thousand times better.”
The Center for Community Engagement and Service has also identified service needs in our local community that can be addressed remotely. For example, Service Advocate Saarah Papineau ’23 has connected with Aldersbridge Communities, a network of independent and assisted living facilities in Rhode Island that is currently inviting Salve Regina students to volunteer remotely by making phone calls to its residents. Volunteers will provide companionship via phone to residents who are unable to leave their rooms or host visitors due to the pandemic.
Students are also invited to serve as pen pals for older residents in Newport and Middletown that are unable to leave their homes. Carmela Geer, the executive director of a senior center called Newport’s Edward King Center, will collect these letters and distribute them to the local residents.
Please visit the Center for Community Engagement’s website for more information on how to get involved with remote service to the local community during this time.
Bringing needed aid to the University community
As a Mercy educational institution, Salve Regina is proud that over one-third of its current students are first-generation college students and a quarter of students are Pell grant recipients. However, the University is aware that many students may now also be struggling with new and unexpected financial pressures due to this pandemic.
Some students have lost part-time jobs that may have helped support their education; others have returned home to find similarly difficult circumstances. Salve Regina recognizes that the basic needs of safe shelter, insurance, food and finances may be at the forefront of the minds of many students and families.
With Salve Regina’s Mercy mission in mind, review the following available resources:
- The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice is an organization centered on connecting students with the basic needs of food, affordable housing, transportation and mental health to support learning. This PDF guide provides specific programs and resources in each of these areas during these challenging time.
- The Nationwide Emergency Fund contains national and state-specific resources that may be of assistance during this time as well.
- The Mercy Emergency Relief Fund at Salve Regina was established several years ago as a way to support the Salve Regina community and the University in times of need due to extraordinary circumstances. At this time, President Kelli J. Armstrong will utilize the Mercy Emergency Relief Fund to support the many efforts under way on behalf of our students and the University that have arisen from the global pandemic.
Catherine McAuley once wrote in a letter to one of her Sisters of Mercy, “Let us take one day only in hand, at a time, merely making a resolve for tomorrow.” As a Mercy community in this time of global urgency, Salve Regina seeks to reach out to its neighbors, communities and students each day to work for a world that is more harmonious, just and merciful.
Each Monday, SALVEtoday will provide a service update for the University community on what faculty, staff and students are doing to help out others during this time of remote living and learning. #salvesgotthis #mercymondays