N.Y. students lend a hand at St. Ann Outreach in Kingstree


KINGSTREE — Sisters Susanne Dziedzic and Johanna Ciezobka, two Felician Sisters of North America (FSNA) who run St. Ann Outreach Center, received a breath of fresh air when six Villa Maria College students spent their spring break helping out March 28-April 2.

Student groups not only save the sisters a tremendous amount of money in hired help, but also lift their spirits when times get tough.

“These college groups are always so filled with life and are so anxious to help and learn,” said Sister Ciezobka.

The small college in Buffalo, N.Y., requires 22 hours of community service of all its students, and although many chose to do odd jobs around the school, these six chose a different route.

“These guys have definitely stepped out of the box on this trip,” said Kory Banks, the Villa Maria administrator who accompanied the students to South Carolina. “They all share a gift of humor, understanding, patience, and they truly have hearts to serve.”

The group came as part of a short-term program sponsored by the FSNA called Volunteers in Mission. Although several schools from around the country have participated, this is a school that holds some significance with Sister Dziedzic. Not only does her order run the school, but she is also an alumnus and former principal of Villa Academy.

The sisters put the students to work, but also spent time with them in prayer and community.

“We pray with them two times a day and spend a lot of time getting to know them,” Sister Ciezobka said. “By the time they leave we feel that we have really spent a good bit of time getting to know who they are.”

During the students’ stay, they painted a mobile home for a disabled resident, served at the Blessed Angela Meal Day, and assisted with the clothing closet distribution. They also participated in a homework program in assisting fourth- through sixth-graders at St. Ann’s after-school program. Their stay ended with a River Swamp Sweep at the Black River.

“It is really important to us that we tie these school groups into things we already do,” said Sister Ciezobka. “It gives them a feel for the ministry, and it is especially beneficial for our home repair ministry.”

“The people are so amazing and so friendly,” said Amanda Kuwik, a freshman. “I decided to come because my best friend signed up to come, but I have had such a wonderful, gorgeous experience.”

Chandra Gangloff, also a freshman, decided during orientation at the school that she wanted to take this trip.

“I knew that I wanted to do something different and knew that this would be a good experience,” said the photography major. “Working with these people really gives me a desire to serve.”

These students have become my surrogate family,” said Banks. “I am new to this business, but this has been a great time to get to know a great group of people. Seeing the desire that these students have to serve has been a great thing to see firsthand.”

For more information on the Volunteers in Mission program, or to assist at the outreach center, call (843) 354-9415.