Michael Walsh: Giving Thanks, Giving Back
JANUARY 17, 2006

Michael Walsh '05 outside of Martha's Village and Kitchen in Coachella, California.

When I came to Stonehill in 2001, I was like most freshmen: anxious about leaving home for the first time. In fact, I might have been a little more nervous than most because I was coming from Oakland, California. Many people at Stonehill would ask me, "Why would you leave California to come to Massachusetts?" My answer was always very simple: "It is because of the money."

My uncle Frank Walsh is a Holy Cross priest who has been teaching at Stonehill for decades and, through his affiliation, my tuition would be lowered.

On Sundays, I heard the Holy Cross priests say that we are all blessed and it is our responsibility as Christians to give back. It took a while for the message to sink in-it was not until my junior year that I decided to participate in the HOPE alternative spring break program. With the generosity of the Stonehill extended family, I had the opportunity to go work with the people of Honduras.

In my senior year, still wanting to give back, I led a group of Stonehill students to the Bronx, New York. Both experiences helped to alter the way that I perceived the world. My eyes were opened to the plight of the poor both domestically and abroad, and I realized what a difference one person can make in the lives of those they serve.

After graduation, it was important that I repay my debt to Stonehill and particularly to the Holy Cross Fathers. Therefore, I became a Holy Cross Associates Volunteer, dedicating a year to service at one of their placements in the United States.

I am now placed in Coachella, California where the Holy Cross Fathers have a parish, working at a homeless shelter called Martha's Village and Kitchen. There I serve in the Emergency Assistance office, dealing with questions ranging from "May I have a toothbrush?" to "My electricity is about to be shut off, can you help?" Everyday is a different experience, and I love every minute of my time working at Martha's.

If it were not for the push from Stonehill to give back, I doubt if I would have participated in such a wonderful experience. On Sundays at Mass, I would give thanks for the opportunity to attend Stonehill, but I never wrote a formal thank you note to the College community for all it's given me.

So I'll say it now: Thank you, Stonehill.

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