This summer, St. John’s students and faculty went on several school-sponsored service trips. This included trips to Houston, TX; Walls, MS; Browning, MT; and Camden, NJ. On these trips, St. John’s students and faculty interacted with many different groups, completed various kinds of service, and had faith-filled experiences.
The trip to Houston took place the week of June 3-8. Eight students and two chaperones worked for the Harvey Recover Project, helping to rebuild houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Harvey last August. “It was definitely the most fun I have ever had doing service,” said Gavan Duffy ’19.
The first trip to Walls from June 3-9 included eight students and two chaperones. They helped a family who needed a new wheelchair ramp. They first had to take apart their old ramp. Then, they built the family a new one. Ciaran McAndrews ’20 said, “The trip was a great experience where I got to help out those in need and meet new people.”
The second trip to Walls, from June 10-16, also included eight students and two teachers. They worked with Sacred Heart Southern Missions, a charity that provides housing renovation services for local residents in need. They split into two groups in two separate locations, with one group working on a kitchen and the other on a bathroom. Mr. Wise, math teacher, explained that “these were people in pretty serious poverty: one lady had resorted to using a bucket for her restroom for well over a year. Working on these projects took up most of our time.”
But they also got to have some well-deserved fun. For example, they drove into Memphis to walk around Beale Street, eat barbecue, and visit the National Civil Rights Museum, which is located at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. Mr. Wise described the trip as “a great chance to engage with students in a completely different context while doing valuable work for people who need it. Mississippi is beautiful, but way, way too hot.”
On the Browning service trip, Mr. Danso and Ms. Butler took eight students to work on another Lasallian school, the De La Salle Blackfeet School. During the trip, they worked with students who lived on the Blackfeet Reservation who were going to the school for summer camp. The St. John’s students helped them with reading, science, math, and robotics projects during the day. They then played basketball, chess, and other schoolyard games during recess. They also had the chance to speak with members of the Blackfeet tribe about issues surrounding reservation life. Mr. Danso said, “Overall, it was an amazing experience that I am so grateful for. Everyone there was extremely welcoming and taught us a lot about their experiences as native Americans living on a reservation.”
For the Camden trip, 10 students and two teachers stayed at the Romero Center with two other schools. Each day they would work at a different location. They worked in shifts of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to about 5:30 p.m. Throughout the week, the group served at two elderly daycares, one youth center, one soup kitchen, and one food bank. They were able to meet a lot of people and dig deeper into impoverished area of Camden.
Kyle Madison ’20 said, “I think that the trip really strengthened my faith. It showed me a new perspective on how the people I was helping see life.” Nkati Amare ’19 said, “The Camden trip was truly an incredible but saddening experience. It was great to be able to meet the people we were serving and hear their stories, but also upsetting to see all of the drugs and poverty in the community.”