Just How Lucky I Am: Reflecting on my BREAKAWAY Spring Break Service Trip

By: Jack Bronec, Sophomore

Hi! My name is Jack Bronec. I am a sophomore at North Central College studying marketing.  I am on the Men’s Basketball Team and the Vice President of Communication of American Marketing Association. I grew up St. Charles, IL where I live with my mom, dad, grandma, two sisters Margaret and Molly, and my dog named Guinness who is a Boston terrier.


I first heard about BREAKAWAY from my mom. She said to check it out since I didn’t have plans for spring break and basketball had just ended.  After checking out BREAKAWAY on the website, I was really interested in Habitat for Humanity in Clemson, SC. Our team was made up of leaders, Kaitlin and Brittany and six other students Joy, Laura, Sophie, Noah, Mason, and me.

8In short, it was a GREAT trip, and I made some friends for the rest of my college career. This trip helped me break out of my comfort zone as I traveled to a new city, got to know new people, and donated my time to helping others. It was fulfilling to hear “thank you” so many times. It made me realize that I CAN help change people’s lives and this trip gave me so much perspective on just how lucky I am. I go to a great college. I have a great family who is not only physically healthy but mentally healthy as well, and we have good relationships. When I look at the Clemson/ Pickens County area, I see people struggling to make ends meet and simply put food on the table. I am so blessed that I am in the position I am today, and I take this for granted all too often. I need to make the most out of every situation in life and be grateful for what I’ve been given.

For your reading pleasure, below is a short summary of our week with some pictures!

DAY 1 – Travel Day 1

Saturday March 18th, 2017 – We started our trip. The first leg was from North Central College to Knoxville, Tennessee. We stayed at a church. There was a game room, basketball court, and a big area were everyone slept for the night.

DAY 2 – Travel Day 2

Sunday March 19th, 2017 – We stopped at a local 1donut shop—Markers donuts—and made our way to Clemson, South Carolina driving through the  Blue Ridge Mountains. That evening, our main Habitat for Humanity host, Cindy, cooked us lasagna and garlic bread and helped us settle into Clemson United Methodist Church for the week

DAY 3 – Work Day 1

Monday March 20th, 2017 – Today was the day—WORK DAY 1.  The house we were assigned was about 40 minutes away from the church. We met our contractor Art who gave us duct tape to make name tags. The goal for the week was to law down hardwood floor throughout the house and put up trim around the windows and doors. One of the Habitat board members owns Wendy’s so we got to enjoy as much food as possible for dinner that evening, too, and explore the river walk in downtown Greensville.

DAY 4 – Work Day 2

Tuesday March 21st, 2017 – We finished up the flooring in the bedrooms then moved our way to the hallway and kitchen and family room. Once we finished up the bedrooms we7 put a cleaner, flooring paper, and cardboard on the floor to protect them. We walked down to a little place called Hagood Mill to eat our lunch were there was a blacksmith, a mill where they used the river to make flour, and a moonshine still. For dinner, we went to Clemson University’s Church were we engaged with their Catholic student group and some faculty too. We toured campus and were able to go into the football stadium!

DAY 5 – Work Day 3

Wednesday March 22nd, 2017 – We conquered a lot this day. We finished up the flooring after many days of hard work. During our evening church dinner, I met some people that lived in St. Charles until 2014. I couldn’t believe how small the world really is and how you can relate so much to someone simply because you lived in the same place.

DAY 6 – Work Day 4

Thursday March 23rd, 2017 – Details were our main focus at the worksite with flooring and starting the trim work on the windows and framing the doors. Cindy took us to talk with some current Habitat homeowners and hear their stories—to help break down the stereotypical view of someone who may need a home. Cindy also have us a lot of the background on what it takes to get a Habitat house. She also took us to her home on a farm where she hosts weddings and more! While relaxing that evening, everyone randomly wanted to how to dance to Footloose. We spent an hour trying to practice it. We did an ok job!

DAY 7 – Work Day 5

Friday March 24th, 2017 – Our last day of work was a half day so we could hike and explore! We finished up majority of the 11windows and doors trim work. We were proud of ourselves. Cindy gave us a picture of all of us and the house in the background. I have it hanging on my wall by my desk. Art took us on a trail he blazed himself, nowhere to be found on a map, with a great view of water falls. And after that hike, we went to another trail (mapped) and found another waterfall which was huge. We all had a great time just lying in the sun, listening to the water, and reflecting on how lucky we were to be in that place, in that moment, and on that trip.


Feed the Need: Another Round

By: Kyle Exline, Head Men’s and Women’s Volleyball Coach + The Office of Ministry & Service

Friends! Our 3rd year of hosting Feed the Need–a partnership of Feed My Starving Children, the Feed the Need coalition, and the Office of Ministry and Servicehas passed and another round is coming in 2018! Before diving into what’s ahead we wanted to take a look back and celebrate together.

To highlight, over 5,000 volunteers packed 1,003,084 meals feeding 2,748 children for an entire year on February 18th and 19th, 2017 in the Res/Rec Center on the campus of North Central College. 32519068664_a744deb92e_o

The meals packed at the 2017 MobilePack were distributed as follows:

  • Nicaragua
    • 816,480 meals went to Nicaragua through Food for the Poor. In Nicaragua specifically, Food for the Poor provides medical care through several clinics, they sponsor 22 orphanages and they also build housing units. Find out more information at: foodforthepoor.org
  • Haiti
    • 186,624 meals went to Haiti through Love A Child. Find out more information at: loveachild.com

33234447751_cf7ba396ce_kOn a personal level, in 2016 our women’s volleyball team helped out at Feed the Need and they were the ones that suggested this again to the coaching staff! We included our men’s players and we were looking at this in two ways: A) we can give back to kids in need and B) we can bond together as a volleyball family! Our day started off with a team meeting before we entered the doors! We had 14 returners and 42 first time Feed the Need volunteers (including coaches). As we were dispersed to our work stations, the men’s and women’s players split up in packs and they were able to cover seven stations. The student athletes were working together, laughing, smiling, grinding, and celebrating every box they created!33206800382_c78de373db_k
They all took this as an opportunity to spend time together and work towards a common goal off of the court. Once the bell rang, we cleaned up our stations and headed back to our chairs. They shared joy and excitement once they were completed. Once the final numbers came into circulation, they were astonished that their work was able to provide 700+ children with meals for a year in one single, hour and a half shift! They all left feeling gratified but not satisfied because they are all eager to help in 2018. We hope you can, too!

So on that note, we are excited to announce next’s year’s mobile pack dates!!!!!!

Drum roll….




To Rise & Respond: An Invitation to the Servant

By: Karli Saner, Assistant Director of Ministry & Service

Reaching from their kneeling, they take hold of a blue drawstring back. Inside they find—deodorant, toothpaste and a toothbrush, food, water, clothing, winter warmth, medicine and more.

“All for me?” many of them ask.

We reply, “Absolutely.”

They grin with renewed gratitude. And we take a seat next to them. We ask questions. We hear their stories. We accept them for all that they are now and all that we pray they will be. Some of them tell us where to find their friends in need.

“Ellen is caddy corner to us. You see her over there on the corner. She’s our friend and would love your company,” Wally tells us.

“Oh and Ricky is just down the street here, too,” says Cherish.

We open our eyes, squinting past the reflections of the sun beaming off buildings. We see them. We see all of them.  We rise and respond.


On Saturday, January 21st,  Cardinals in Action (CIA)—our service group on campus invested in meeting the needs of the local community—gathered 45 North Central students to join them for the 2nd annual NCC_Cares about the Homeless initiative in Chicago.

Last year, CIA launched this program out of a member’s desire to give back to the homeless community and more importantly, break down the stigmas related to homelessness. This longing birthed an opportunity for our students to rise above what the world says about people without a home; and instead, allowed students to engage counter culturally and meaningfully with people—who have names, stories, families—just like each of us.

This year, CIA nearly tripled their impact in care packages created and delivered as well as the number of student participants. Partnering with Yorkville’s 5th grade class at Autumn Creek Elementary School (ACES), a student’s home church, and the North Central community and Naperville businesses, we were able to create 120 care packages! My sister is one of the 5th grade teachers at Autumn Creek and when I asked about the fifth grade joining us in the process she said, “We have to. There’s no question. Our students need to continue to learn from college students and others who model selflessness and positivity in this world right now.”

ACES came through for CIA, collecting enough items throughout the month of December to pack 60 care packages for our project! I had the opportunity to go into the school and personally witness the packages being put together. There I saw 5th graders thrilled to do something good for someone else—thinking beyond themselves over the holiday season and embracing the opportunity to put a smile on someone else’s face.

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And that’s exactly what those care packages offered 120 of our homeless friends on the streets of Chicago—a smile and hope. The students and I divided into 5 teams that scattered to into multiple neighborhoods downtown Chicago.

There we heard stories of people who hadn’t been acknowledged in over a week; a couple whose house had burned down and lost everything giving them no choice but to live on the streets; a veteran who has cancer and is fighting to live; a gentleman (who I recognized from the previous year) unable to find a job because of the way he looks, leaving him on the streets for now 17 years; and so many more. All their stories were filled situations and circumstances any person of any background, faith, career, etc could fall into. And yet, society tells us the homeless are “vagabonds” as a result of their own mistake. And while perhaps some find themselves in the position they are in because of their own mistakes, they are not beggars. These friends my group met that day and all the others…


They are people—they are you and me—worthy of being seen, heard, and given another chance. They care deeply for one another, supporting their friends in similar situations. They are some of the most joyful and thankful individuals in this world, counting each day as a blessing. And, they invite each of us to think differently and live differently—to rise and respond to a hurting, broken world each and every day.

Does MLK Still Matter?

By: Eric Doolitte, College Chaplain

Does MLK still matter?

Yes. But maybe not in the approach often applied to our nation’s agents of transformation.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, has joined the pantheon of national deity with his own spot of reverence on the National Mall alongside Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. But if he is to truly matter today and in the future, we cannot afford to merely treat him as a static figurehead of our country’s success.

We have an amazing capacity to whitewash our heroes. We want them to be clean and uncomplicated and perfect. In the decades since Dr. King lived, more and more people in America know of him, but we know less and less about him. He has become a symbolic figure of the success of America to “solve” racism, just like Thomas Jefferson insured “that all men are created equal” or Abraham Lincoln assured “a just and lasting peace” between the people of the United States. We ignore Jefferson’s class and racial divisions, and Lincoln’s willingness to suspend the due process of law. We want our national heroes to be a pantheon of life, liberty, and justice. Because if they are perfect heroes we can assure ourselves that the problems that they addressed are fixed.

That’s why when we hear the popular version of King, we all nodded in agreement. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Good job, we think. Glad we got that done. We don’t need the MLK of national holiday, school textbook, and monuments. We don’t need another static figurehead with a granite statue, lest we become like the Pharisees and scribes that Jesus addresses in Matthew – “whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

Dr. King still matters because he is a prophet whose voice still cries for justice. A martyr whose witness shames our timidity. A preacher whose speeches and sermons still make us uncomfortable.


Dr. King, the imprisoned preacher, writes from his cell to challenge religious leaders:

The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are [. . .]

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose it authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

Dr. King, on the eve of his assassination, tries to shake the stupor of comfort from our souls:

We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle to the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point… We’ve got to see it through… either we go up together, or we go down together [. . .]

Let us rise up tonight with greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have the opportunity to make America a better nation. I See the Promised Land, 1968.

Across all time, the words of Dr. King, the Godly prophet still cries out for action now:

The oceans of hate are made turbulent by the ever-rising tide of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate… We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to stop in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’ — A Time to Break Silence, 1967.

If Dr. King’s true legacy still matters we must rescue him from the calcification of granite statues and bring him to life again beyond the world’s attempts to petrify him. We can pull him into our lives to join the radical Jesus rescued from the stained glass prison of the complacent church. He joins the pantheon of prophets whose incitements needed the spirit of life breathed into the dusty recitations of lackadaisical liturgists.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, still matters today. As a vital voice of conscious for a nation and world still trapped in hatred, bigotry, and violence. Instead of commemorating him as history, may we elevate him as prophetic leader, faithful preacher, a blessed martyr by continuing his struggle. Because it is not just Dr. King’s struggle for civil rights, it is our struggle for justice. And it is not just our struggle, but God’s inexorable movement towards righteousness and peace for all humanity.


Quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World. Edited by James M. Washington. HarperCollins: SanFrancisco, 1992.

Advent Devotional: Day 15

By: Davonte Sanders-Funches, Class of 2018

Scripture: Psalm 42

Theme: #Hope

When I first stepped foot on North Central’s campus to begin my freshman year, I was confident that I was strong physically, mentally, and spiritually. I had no doubt in my abilities to overcome any trial that would arise. I grew up in a church that felt very much like family. They instilled great principles within me and helped me understand the principles of Christ. When my world turned upside-down, however, I realized that the Christ-like principles I learned were not aligning with how I was living the last few months. I felt discouraged.

Psalms 42 is a song detailing the awesomeness of God, how enemies will mock and intimidate, yet we should cling to faith in God despite what may come against us. This passage resembles hope because twice enemies have doubted asking, “Where is your God now?” but twice the narrator claims to put hope in God. This signifies that God is the only way whether there seems to be a clear path or not. This passage has reminded me to keep faith and hope even when the things of this world come against me. Knowing the battle is already won. Don’t be discouraged!


Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; though the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light: Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home. (Thomas Dorsey, 1932)

Advent Devotional: Day 12

By: Karli Saner, Assistant Director of Ministry and Service

Scripture: Psalm 146:5-10

Theme: #Hope


Sometimes I feel like a young rose, eager to bloom and when I do,

a frost comes.

And now, I am not sure if I am the rose, the frost,

the frost or the passerby,

but I am sure I have been one or all of those things at some time or another.

I am unsure of who or what I am,

but You are a fresh lake water, current and full of life.

I long to be a rose on Your banks, eager to bloom and when I do,

the sun and You greet me.

You say, I have waited for you.

And, then, You bless me.

You are sure of who I am, even when I am weak in myself,

limp and frosted over.

I am the oppressed.

I am the hungry.

I am the prisoner.

I am the blind.

I am the weary.

I am the orphan and the widow.

I am Jacob, and I am sure of who You are.

You, my Lord, are hope.


There are days when all that keeps me praying is the decision to put my hope, my trust, in you, O God. To trust that You are still in charge, that You are watching over my way, that You care about truth even when the liars seem so strong. So, for today, I choose to put my hope in your power to create new beginnings where none seem possible; I choose to trust you will meet me on the bank of Your living water. I wait for You. You, my God, are my only hope.

NCC Cares about the Homeless

By: Karli Saner, Assistant Director of Ministry & Service


At the core of North Central College is a call to care—to care for our classmates, professors, staff members, and sports teams; to care for our environment; to care for our words in dialogue with each other; and to care for our neighbors in acts of service and kindness.

Cardinals in Action (CIA)—North Central’s student-led service group—is collecting gift cards, health/hygiene products, winter clothing items, non-perishable food items, and more this holiday season in their initiative #NCCares. In partnership with North Central’s MLK Service Project, CIA will be distributing these care packages to the homeless in Chicago, January 21st. So mark your calendars! Train tickets will be provided.

We hope you can join us in donating an item or two and/or travel with the NCC community to the city to sit with the homeless, bless them, and hear more of their stories.

Items can be donated in residence halls or the Office of Ministry and Service through January 9th.

Questions? E-mail CIA President, Debra Jensen (dljensen@noctrl.edu) or Assistant Director of Ministry and Service, Karli Saner (kasaner@noctrl.edu).