Wheeling University rugby team helps local organization clean up two areas of town

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WHEELING, W.Va. — As many students began spring break, the coach and 18 members of the Wheeling University rugby team spent an afternoon helping Street MOMS clean up sections of Vineyard Hill and along Wheeling Creek, providing much needed aid to organizations.

Head coach Michael Geibel said the team took on the project after the Reverend Richard McCouch, SJ director of the Appalachian Institute, told the athletic department that Street MOMS needed help.

He noted that serving the community is important to him and to the team. Such work, Geibel said, gives players the chance to experience the University’s mission to be men of service.

“We represent our team and the University on the field through sport, but also in the community through our service. For projects like this, where we were cleaning up an area that is a campsite for people experiencing homelessness, it allows us to recognize the blessings we receive each day. Such work allows the team to help someone else who may be at a difficult time in their life. “, explained Geibel.

Over the past two years, players have undertaken several projects in the greater Wheeling community. “They love helping others whenever they can, and giving two hours out of our day to benefit the community is easy, but has a big impact in the city.”

Prof. McCouch worked as a liaison to connect Wheeling students with Street MOMS to undertake this site clean-up project before local warmer shelters close this month. Prof. McCouch recently approached athletic director Carrie Hanna and spoke to the various teams about getting involved. Rugby was the first team to volunteer to help.

In February, Fr. McCouch contacted Susan Brossman and Lynn Kettler of Street MOMS to see if Wheeling University could help clean up abandoned encampments. “Given certain sensitivities, I believe that a project like this aligns well with the mission of the Appalachian Institute and our goal at Wheeling University to train men and women with and for others, a longstanding aspect of the university’s mission. The project on Vineyard Hill offered an informative foray into the Lenten season of service for our students,” the father said. McCouch explained. Wheeling University, he said, provided the students and rakes, while Street MOMS provided gloves and bags for each volunteer.

The group spent time cleaning up debris left behind by people staying at the sites to make areas safe for people to return to after shelters closed, Geibel said.

Brossman explained that Geibel and his team members helped clean up two sites that had been abandoned. “Coach Mike offered almost the entire rugby team to help us with this endeavour. We spent two hours with the team clearing and bagging the abandonment sites and then transporting the bags to a location where the city could pick them up City of Wheeling Homeless Liaison Melissa Adams met us at the trail to thank the young men for their work Altogether we picked up nearly 90 bags of trash .

Wheeling University President Ginny R. Favede said, “As the University of Wheeling, it is important that our students participate in the betterment of our host city. This is just one of many examples of how our students help the community. I am proud of these young men for helping street moms and local residents clean up the site. Part of every student’s education is learning to live our mission – to serve others and bring positive change in their communities. Help from the team shows that the University educates our students to make a difference in the lives of others.

Adams added: “The town is very grateful for the help provided by the Street MOMs and the rugby team. Having the support of other people, agencies, and organizations is essential to the health and well-being of the community as a whole.

Team members who participated in the service project were: Josh Blankenship, Bailey Brunner, Chief Chipfumbu, Navin Couch, Jacob Deglow, Stan Giani, Mohamed Haddar, Joseph Iye, Desi James, Jr., Ayoub Jalli, Rua Karimazondo , Anthony Krzesinski, Runyararo Mukangure, Mike Muleya, Laurence Old, José Oltra, Rati Ramishvili and Ernest Vidal.

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