Alas, today was our final day of service. Once again everyone went to various homes to help in different ways with Hurricane Sandy clean-up. Kasie Bourque '14 was telling us that their group is helping a veteran get back on his feet and he has been so kind to them, offering them drinks, breaks in his air conditioned living room, and I think he got them pizza one day for lunch. Bryan Dufour '14 and Jessie Charon '15 are working on a house that was moved 3 feet off its foundation by the storm. Kerra Photiades '14 and Michael Toomey '14 worked hard as well for folks. We are going to meet tonight to talk about their experiences so I will share some on the blog.
My group, as you may recall, has been painting the home of a woman on Long Island. Today we moved to a different home where we worked on a house that was further behind in the process. The homeowner is a 94 and has Alzheimer's so she was not there with us. Some students cleaned and painted the front porch, another painted and cleaned in the garage, and two others helped with sanding walls and a ceiling. Mrs. Photiades helped clean the floor of the handicapped ramp which was full of gunk from the drywall. I helped for a bit with the sanding but I must confess that by the time we started doing the ceilings I threw in the towel and "supervised." I figured I'd let the kids get the most out of the service experience and not take any work from them. I thought that was very generous of me (!).
The woman who was our coordinator, Amanda, treated all us to some delicious frozen yogurt which we all devoured. She was very gracious to the kids when we were leaving saying she usually is worried when high school students are coming to help but this group, she said, was amazing. I personally had a wonderful time with them and getting to know them. They were all from different schools so we had a nice mix. One of the boys was from Martin de Porres Group Home and in chatting with him, he said he has learned so much from the trip and has really changed a lot. Boys in his situation are guarded and are reluctant to share and to get to know people since they are so often hurt. But on the way home today he was singing the songs on the radio, laughing with the kids, joking around, etc. He was really a different person from Sunday and I was so happy to hear his thoughts. I have gotten close to his moderator, Malik Mitchell, who is my suite mate and who joined Mrs. Photiades and me on our service trips. He sat in the back with all the kids and was chatting away and joking with them, he has a great personality. He was pointing out the sights to us on the way home today as we took a different route. We drove past the airports and both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
Tonight we had a BBQ dinner and soon will hear about the Lasallians going to World Youth Day in Brazil. Many Christian Brothers are here to talk about the trip and I had the privilege of eating breakfast with them this morning. Tomorrow is our excursion day. Each school is going on their own and Mrs. Photiades and I decided we would take the train (which is right across the street from Manhattan College) to the Staten Island Ferry and take a ride in the harbor. The trip is free and you get amazing views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan's skyline. We will then head up to the World Trade Center Memorial and then sort of meander. I would love to visit the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace if the kids will indulge me!
Keep in your prayers some of the kids who aren't feeling well. Many, I think, succumbed to the heat, lack of sleep, etc. and aren't feeling very well. They will all be fine but it can't be fun I'm sure.
More to come...