Minding the Gap

Submitted by Villanova

If students didn't notice Jeff Sved at the beginning of the week, they did by the end.

He was the one coming to class with a sleeping bag, begging for meals outside Dougherty, camping out in the Corr Hall archway and not taking showers or changing clothes.


As a senior running Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Sved had decided to raise awareness by becoming "homeless." He left his wallet, Wildcard and independence in his apartment and depended on others for basic necessities.

Such action is typical Sved. Attracted to Villanova partly because of its focus on service, he tried to bridge the gap between privilege and poverty and inspired others to do the same.

Not satisfied with simply serving meals at soup kitchens such as St. Francis Inn, he built relationships with "guests" and people in the neighborhood. He collected and delivered food leftover at campus events. He organized clothing drives. He fasted and used the meal points to buy groceries for the poor, and he expanded Campus Ministry's Service Council.

His extraordinary efforts earned him Villanova's 2011 Thomas J. Mentzer Award.

Sved, who is doing post-graduate service with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, credits mentors in Campus Ministry and the Center for Peace and Justice Education with inspiring him to think creatively about igniting change.

"I entered Villanova with a charity mindset and developed one for social justice. I learned to ask, why is this the case and how can we fix it-not by putting on a bandage but by preventing the cut?"