October 16, 2011

Cardboard City

As it started to get dark on last night, students of Trinity High School began descending upon the school to set-up cardboard homes for the night.  These students would spend the night sleeping outdoors to raise money and awareness of homelessness in Manchester.  80 students (130 signed up) sacrificed their Saturday night, their bed, and their comfort for one night to gain a better appreciation and understanding of what it means to be homeless.

After setting up their "homes" for the night, the students moved into the gym at 8:30pm where we prayed and watched the Will Smith movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" (sic).  I liked this movie as it shows that homelessness can happen to anyone, not just those who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.  At 10:30pm, the students went back outside for the evening and were settled in by midnight or so.  Most students got some sleep but some decided to stay up all night.  There were many teachers and parents who gave up their night to watch over the students and to make sure they stayed safe.  Everyone took a 2 hour shift and there were 3-4 adults awake at anytime.  Some, like Mr. Mailloux and Mrs. Henning, slept in boxes, while others, like Mr. Gibbons (father of Mo '12 and Brenna '14) and Mrs. Masci (mother of Christine '14) slept in their cars.  Mr. Bielik slept in a sleeping bag on the ground while Mr. and Mrs. Puchacz (parents of Jessica '14) crashed on the couches in Campus Ministry.  Ms. Girard and Mr. Lindh (father of Haley '14) went home for a couple of hours and came back while Mr. Pascucci (father of Jessica '14) and Mr. Smith came at midnight for a couple of hours.

I took the 12am-2am shift and I tried to sleep from 2am-4am.  I made camp on the side of the building next to the faculty parking lot with a blanket and my jacket as a pillow.  I drifted in and out of sleep and at about 3:30, I was awoken by some students near me who saw a spider (I have these boys in one of my classes, ha ha, revenge is sweet - just kidding, sort of) and I was shivering something fierce (I haven't been feeling well) so I went inside and slept in one of the pews in the chapel for about 20 minutes.

At 4am, Mrs. Henning and I got the gym ready for Mass and we then woke everyone up at 5:45am with a bell I found in my office.  The students were not amused!  Father Richard Dion of Saint Anthony's Parish celebrated Mass for us in the gym which was con-celebrated by Father Patrick Kariuki Njau, who lives at Saint Anthony's and is the chaplain at Elliot Hospital.  The Mass was very simple but it was a wonderful way to end our time together.  Thanks to some generous parents like Mr. and Mrs. Boisvert (parents of Margaret '15), Mrs. Gibbons (mother of Mo '12 and Brenna '14) and Mrs. Curran (mother of Brian '14), we had a nice assortment of breakfast food and drink waiting for us after Mass.

I don't have the exact total that the students raised for New Horizons and Families in Transition but I think we surpassed the $2,000 mark!  Thank you to those students who took part and made this event so memorable and meaningful.  Many students said we should do it again.  I am game if you are.

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