Students are bridge to hope

DAYTONA BEACH | “It can be difficult to remember our call to serve others in life, and easy to forget how truly blessed we are in what God has granted us,” said Caitlin Pessolano, a member of the Catholic Student Union at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (CSU ERAU) in Daytona Beach. “Bridge of Hope allows me to feel like I am using my abilities to make a real impact in someone else’s life.”

Pessolano is one of several CSU ERAU students who serves meals at Bridge of Hope, which provides more than 100,000 meals per year to the homeless or food insufficient. The charitable organization is part of Halifax Urban Ministries. Pessolano began serving soon after she joined CSU ERAU as a freshman. Although her visits are less these days due to a rigorous course schedule, she still makes participation a priority. “It is such a direct and real way to help our neighbors and see the Lord in the faces of those in need.” The aerospace engineering student added, “You see a large variety of people who come through the doors of the Halifax Urban Ministry, and so many of them are incredibly thankful of our presence and service. It also is very humbling to hear them giving thanks and praise to the Lord. Often times they speak about how blessed they feel, despite being in what many people would consider a very negative situation.”

Megan Christovich is a psychology major at ERAU. This is her first semester serving. She noted, “When I take a moment to recognize there are others who have never experienced the comfort that I have had for my entire life, I am called to help in any way I can.”

Although she feels that hers is a small part, she too finds the opportunity to pay forward the many gifts she has received enriching. Like Pessolano, it is the gratitude of those helped that moves her most. “The most meaningful encounters that I experience are the smiles on the faces of those who objectively may have only a few reasons to smile,” she said. “From my experiences, those who seem to have the least are the happiest people and the most grateful for time spent with them. It is humbling and provides a new perspective when the kindest people I have ever met are the ones who have been through difficult experiences that I could never fathom.”

Christovich added, “I experience God moments in every amount of time I spend focusing on others… It is the time spent with people, learning their stories and having conversations, that allows for deeper connections. When we serve anyone, we are serving God, and that is the way I want to live my life. I know that any time I spend serving God makes a difference.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic February 21, 2020