The week that changed my life


Photo by Caitlynn Hickey

Caitlynn Hickey, Online Editor

Over the past summer, many things in my life changed. I got a haircut, I read new books, and I got new shoes. But one week will forever stand out in my memory,  the week I spent in Philadelphia. I went to Philadelphia for my first mission trip. I figured that I would hate it, want to go home, and never come back. What I didn’t expect was for it to completely turn my view of the world upside-down.

I was part of a group of six people, including our two chaperons. This was an insanely small group, which meant we would have two times the work load.  There were three boys and three girls, which worked out nicely. Every group that goes on this trip stays in a church named  Broadstreet Ministry and each summer they hire a group of college students to stay with us and show us the ropes.  Broadstreet practices “radical hospitality”, something that they taught us the day we got there. This is the act of including everyone, from any walk of life, and welcoming them with open arms. The church really focuses on the homeless population in Philly and made sure that this was something we were exposed too, most of us for the first time in our lives.

While the group went out and helped around the city every day, one of my favorite programs to help with was “Breaking Bread”. “Breaking Bread” is when Broadstreet opens their door and serves a meal, opens their postal service, clothing closet, and their personal care area to the population of Philly that is experiencing any type of scarceness. One of the things they taught us was their “trauma informed, harm reduction” saying. This is basically knowing that everyone who walks through the doors of Broadstreet already has or will experience some form of trauma. This could be not knowing where they are going to sleep that night or where their next meal will come from. Then, the harm reduction part: what they do to reduce harm. The dining room has circular tables with place settings, there are no lines, everyone is served from the back of the room to front, you never reach over the guests when serving, and other small things they do to ensure that it is a safe place for everyone.

I served twice during “Breaking Bread” and loved it. The people were wonderful and some of the most respectful and shining people I had ever met. They knew and built relationships with other guests along with Broadstreet’s staff.

Over the course of the week, our group sold papers on the street, packaged food, weeded at a nursing home, and helped at an addiction house. I think about this trip every day and continually wish to go back.

If you want to visit Broadstreet’s website go to