Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New ORB Care Blogger: Kristie Bergin!

Chris: Hello! Sorry for the lack of posts the last few months, but I hope to restart updating regularly, with various posters contributing different perspectives. I have asked college student Kristie Bergin to have a regular blog column, and if you know anything about Kristie, you know this is a treat. This is a person who spends all her spring breaks and summer vacations on service trips, organizes service events at college, and has attended numerous conferences and retreats concerning social justice. She's a cool gal.

Check out the blog regularly to see what she has to say:

I should probably introduce myself before I start this entry. My name is Kristie Bergin. I'm a junior at Cabrini College, which is right near Philadelphia. I've been a part of various ministries at Outreach Red Bank for almost 5 years now and feel extremely blessed because of it.

Chris has asked me to become a regular contributor to the ORB Care blog to offer my views about service and social justice. My interest in this stuff started only three years ago when, in my senior year of high school, I took a global issues course taught by an amazing woman who has truly dedicated her life to service. Since coming to college, that interest has turned into a passion.

On campus, I'm a Catholic Relief Services Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, which means I act as an advocate, educator, and event planner for all things HIV. In addition, I'm a social work major and have spent the last 2 months interning at a day homeless shelter. I've been to West Virginia for a service trip and to Ecuador for an immersion trip. I've attended numerous conferences and retreats concerning social justice and have done a good amount of independent study on the matter. As a result, my friends and family find it hard to get me to stop talking about social justice once I've started.

As you have probably noticed, I used the phrase "social justice" quite a few times. It is a phrase I use often, probably everyday, and I'll use it many times in my future blog posts. But what does that phrase mean?

I'm not an expert, and this is not an exact definition, it's just what I've come up with in the past two years whenever I'm asked to define or explain the term. For me, social justice is the endless pursuit of equality and justice for each person in this world. A person who truly seeks social justice does so with an open heart and open mind, with the vision of a world without hunger, preventable disease, and war. The person embraces solidarity and works to empower the afflicted to become advocates of social change. They remember that God did not create the world so that it could be separated or divided by borders. Meaning, social justice is not limited to one country or one continent.

Most importantly, social justice is something that everyone can practice. It doesn't require a career change or much time out of our daily routines. There are simple ways to make a big difference. Of course, if you wanted to change your career to something like social work, I would not be one to oppose :)

I told you it would be hard for me to stop talking about this stuff once I've started. Now that you understand where I'm coming from, I hope you'll read more and think about your role in the pursuit of social justice. At the end of each post, I'm going to insert a quote from a leader in social justice and one way you can make a difference.

Thanks for reading!

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
Mother Teresa

Simple social justice tip of the day:
Instead of using all your computer time on facebook, go to Here you can donate 10 grains of rice for each correct answer to vocabulary, math, geography, or language questions. Teachers and tutors, tell your students and infuse service into your curriculum!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gaza Crisis: The Humanitarian Response

I invite you to participate in a conference call with the Mercy Corps field staff in Jerusalem to hear firsthand accounts of the current situation on the ground in Gaza.  This call will take place on Friday, January 16th at 1:00 PM EST.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mercy Corps, they work to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.  Their strategy is to work in countries in transition, where communities are recovering from disaster, conflict or economic collapse.  You may learn more about Mercy Corps by visiting their website
Below you can find information on how to participate on this call.  Please remember to RSVP if you are planning to attend.

Gaza Crisis: The Humanitarian Response
Get the inside story from Mercy Corps staff in the region

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is grim - and getting worse by the day. Despite significant obstacles, Mercy Corps staff in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and Egypt are working to get aid to families who need our help. So far, we've delivered food, blankets and medical supplies to more than 600 families.

This Friday, get firsthand accounts of what's happening inside Gaza by joining a conference call with Mercy Corps field staff in Jerusalem.  You'll hear about the situation on the ground, the challenges we're facing, and our immediate and long-term plans to assist families in Gaza. 

Friday, January 16
1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST

North American callers, call toll-free:
1-800-758-5606 to join the call

International callers, call +1-212-231-2902 to join the call

To follow the visual presentation online and submit your questions live, go to and enter access code 5370513 in the "join a meeting" box. We recommend logging on a few minutes before the scheduled start time.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend, so we know how many lines to reserve. You can also use the RSVP form to submit questions to our Gaza field staff in advance so they can try to respond to as many questions as possible during the call.