A little care on a frightful night

Chelsea Woods

Of all three components of the Villanova motto, caritas, manifested in the form of community service efforts at the University, has become a prevalent, integral part of student life. Ranging from the large scale, like service trips and Special Olympics, to the smaller efforts, such as after-school mentoring programs, Villanova is getting ready to head up another prolific year of service.Campus Ministry’s head of Community Outreach, William Stehl, says the word “community” is one of the chief buzzwords at Villanova. An alumnus of the University, Stehl joined the staff of Campus Ministry this year, but his newness to the position does not dampen his enthusiasm. Having worked in Campus Ministry during his tenure as a student, Stehl reminisces that the people at Campus Ministry “were the kind of people I wanted to model in my own life.” According to Stehl, the kind of person suited for Campus Ministry work is dedicated, hard-working, willing to be a good role model and willing to have fun. These values carry over into the numerous outreach programs of Campus Ministry.With Halloween swiftly approaching, these programs are taking a spooky twist. Campus Ministry plans another successful Fright Night, the annual Halloween event on campus. Children tutored through R.U.I.B.A.L. and other mentoring programs are bused to campus for a night of safe Halloween fun. Because many of these children are from inner-city Philadelphia, they do not have safe neighborhoods to trick-or-treat in, and FrightNight offers a secure alternative.Campus Ministry says that the success of the event depends on the passion of its participants. Students involved with R.U.I.B.A.L. and the other mentoring programs have a genuine interest in the well-being of children, as well as a willingness to model values important for kids, such as caring, kindness and fairness. FrightNight, a totally student-run event, is taking place this year on Oct. 29. Beginning at 6 p.m., the children are taken in groups to trick-or-treat at participating rooms throughout Stanford by volunteers called “Huggers.” These rooms are marked by a pumpkin hanging on the door. After trick-or-treating, the kids travel to the lounges for arts and crafts and face painting. But FrightNight does not just entail the participation of the residents of Stanford. This year, Katharine Hall residents will be in charge of the arts and crafts, St. Monica’s Hall residents will provide the Huggers and Caughlin Hall residents will facilitate the food. The night is a collective effort, mostly by freshmen on campus. FrightNight also gives the kids real one-on-one time with their tutors. “[These programs] help to develop relationships with these kids and connect on a personal level,” says Stehl. “We don’t want another person in and out of these kids’ lives,” he says, hinting at the frequency of broken relationships in the lives of the underprivileged kids in the programs. FrightNight helps to build the necessary bonds which can be integral to child development.Meggie Greene, the Campus Ministry intern in Katharine Hall, remembers last year’s FrightNight. A grad student in the nursing school, she began participating in FrightNight during her senior year as an RA in Katharine. “It gives the kids an opportunity to see their tutors in a different light,” Greene says. There’s also a ton of fun to be had. Last year, there was an informal contest among some of the RAs in Stanford to see who could have the scariest wing. Henry Vu, Katharine Hall’s present head RA and the winner of the event, says the kids’ reactions were the best part. “Seeing their joy, them having fun, made the whole night for me, especially because of the enthusiasm of the residents in dressing up and just being friends for the kids,” Vu says.All of these factors combined serve to contribute to a larger goal. “We want the kids to know that college is not some far off place but somewhere where they can be as well,” Stehl says. Ultimately, FrightNight is one of the means to that end. Beyond the fun and entertainment of the evening, it gives Villanova another opportunity to reach out to the surrounding community. As Greene says, in some small way, FrightNight “gives these kids the inspiration to come to college.”