Students find comfort in Home Away from Home
As Thanksgiving approaches, students who will be remaining on campus for the holiday are invited to join local families for dinner. But even students who will be away for the holidays can get to know nearby families throughout the year through the Home Away from Home program.
The program, founded in September of 2008, was created to give students a unique way to get involved in the community by getting to know local people and enjoying a home-cooked meal.
Around 50 students participate in the program regularly, and there are about 26 families from South Orange and Maplewood that host the students for dinners. Most students participate in pairs, although it is also possible to sign up individually. Even just in its third semester, the numbers increase every semester.
“Our numbers have doubled every semester since our first sign-ups last year,” Nicholas Sena from Community Relations, the department that runs the Home Away from Home program, said.
The program runs year-round, and according to Sena some students even meet with their host families during the summer. The Thanksgiving dinner program, though not a part of Home Away from Home, is also run by the Office of Community Relations. Seven families have volunteered to host students for Thanksgiving dinner, and abut eleven students have signed up to participate.
Even though this program is separate from Home Away from Home, Community Relations suggests that participating students meet with their host families over the holidays if they are on campus for the break.
“We have encouraged those students to join their families if they are around and for the families to take in other students who cannot make it home for the holiday,” Sena said.
Students are encouraged to participate in the program, not just as a way to get to know community members, but also as a way to take a break from cafeteria food and microwave meals.
“I live about 4 – 4.5 hours away and it’s very hard to find time to go home. This program really helped me find an escape from school and the cafeteria,” sophomore Andrea Borrelli said. Borrelli is a participant in Home Away from Home who comes from northern Virginia.
Borrelli explained that she went with a friend to the dinners with her host family, and they made sure to dress nicely to make a good impression on Seton Hall’s behalf.
“They are a very cultured couple and I remember their initial reaction to us was excitement because they were so afraid of getting some schleppy college kids at their door,” she said.
The program not only gives students an escape and the opportunity to meet local families, but it also helps the residents of South Orange and the surrounding areas to think highly of Seton Hall.
Borrelli suggested that other students try the Home Away from Home program. “I encourage all students to look into this program and try to make a good name for Seton Hall in our community,” she said.