Our Youth

Poverty: Not As Seen on TV

Camden Retreat
Upperclassmen from Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, learned of poverty by immersion on a three-day retreat in Camden, N.J. They spent one day on just $3 to better understand the situation many of their brothers and sisters face.

Nine juniors and seniors from Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, traveled to Camden, N.J., to participate in a service program that put them face to face with poverty and challenged them to live on only $3 for a whole day.

The Romero Center’s Urban Challenge Program is a service-learning, immersion retreat experience, which ran Oct. 23-2​6​.

Students and their mentors participated in various service projects, including working in a soup kitchen, organizing supplies in a food bank distribution center, planting trees and visiting disabled adults in a group home. The group also spent one day living on $3 per person in order to learn how the poorest residents in the State of New Jersey feed themselves and their families.

“Being able to attend the retreat to Camden was an experience unlike any other,” said Antonio Franciosa, senior.

“It allowed me to see the hardship present in peoples’ lives. Sure, poverty can be seen on television, but experiencing it firsthand is truly an eye-opening experience. Never does one realize the full extent of hunger, violence and general poverty until it is witnessed by one’s own eyes. Helping these people in need was amazing and left a lasting mark on all of us. As a whole, the retreat made me realize all the things that I take for granted on a regular basis that these people could hardly even dream of having. It taught me the importance of service more than any lesson or television program ever could.”

“Going to Camden was an eye-opening experience,” said Dylan DiTucci-Cappiello, senior. “To hear about the issues that the people of Camden are dealing with is different from seeing them firsthand. I had the unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of what life is like for the thousands of people in the city, and it reminded me of the things that we can sometimes take for granted. One of the things that I took away from the trip was that we need to be active. The only way that the situation in Camden can be improved is for those of us who are privileged enough to have a voice to use it, whether it be through politics, service or simply telling others.”

The students who participated in the retreat were William Kay, junior; Sam Neibel, junior; Franciosa; Albert Connelly, senior; Marvel Delva, senior; Jose Rosales, senior; DiTucci-Cappiello; Paul Jeanbart, junior; and Malachi Provenzano, senior. They were accompanied by campus minister John Dormer and faculty member Brendan Gorman.