Student Org Leader Spotlight: Caroline Muggia, Friends of John Graham Shelter

The John Graham Housing and Services (JGS) was established in July of 1980 to address Addison County’s need for emergency short-term housing. JGS provides a safe, clean place for individuals and families to stay, as well as case management and outreach services.

A small group of students travels to Vergennes at 5:00 p.m. every Wednesday and at 6:00 p.m. every Thursday. The Wednesday group provides whatever help may be required at the center, from homework help to a relaxing hour of arts and craft to ESL help. The Thursday group is involved in planning a menu and cooking a healthy, nutritious dinner for the residents. Together, these groups comprise Friends of John Graham Shelter, one of the CCE’s service organizations.

Below is an interview with Caroline Muggia, one of the co-presidents of Friends of John Graham Shelter.

Why should folks join Friends of John Graham Shelter? What will they take away from the experience? 

People should join our organization because it provides students with the opportunity to engage in the local community. The residents at John Graham greatly appreciate the weekly home cooked meals. By the end of the semester the members of org have created meaningful connections with the residents and often form great bonds with one another.

Why did you first join Friends of John Graham Shelter?

I first joined Friends of the John Graham Shelter because I wanted to make an impact beyond the Middlebury community. I wanted to understand the challenges facing residents not too far from our campus.

What has been your most memorable experience as a member of Friends of John Graham Shelter?

My most memorable experiences as a member has been interacting with families at the shelter. It is really fun to play with the young kids and see their faces light up when we bring a meal they have been looking forward to.

What have you learned, either about yourself or the world around you, as a member of Friends of John Graham Shelter?

I have learned that at Middlebury we are often in a little bit of a bubble. Right down the street there are people that need our help. At the least we need to connect with more people who are different than us. I have seen the immense value in creating friendships with individuals from entirely different backgrounds than your own.

Where are you from and what’s your major? What other activities are you involved with on campus? 

I am from Wellesley, Massachusetts and I am an Environmental Studies major. In addition to being the director of John Graham, I teach yoga on campus and am the Co-director of SGA student health and wellness.