Michelle Ahrens, Mercyhurst University

michelle_ahrens_photoMichelle has a maturity and inspiring commitment to selflessness with her average of twenty hours of voluntary service per week as a double major. Weekly, Michelle visits the children’s program at the House of Mercy for at least four hours. She carries out art, environmental, or Junior Achievement lesson plans with children from refugee families with such ease. Her compassionate hospitality also extends to the issue of a lack of affordable housing for homeless individuals in Erie. Michelle can often be seen weekly at 3:00 a.m. at one of several local churches who commit to Our Neighbor’s Place, a recent overflow shelter movement by the City of Erie and local social service organizations during the winter months. As a lead volunteer for next month’s Empty Bowls hunger event which draws a large weekend crowd, it is hard to truly measure how much Michelle has emptied herself for events like this for the sake of educating others about the realities of food insecurity locally. Whether it is driving students to a weekly Saturday soup kitchen or playing cards with homeless veterans at the overflow shelter, Michelle wrestles with poverty both at the ground level and in the classroom.

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