July 16, 2013

Service - Days 1 and 2

One of our boys working hard
Yesterday was our first full day of service here in New York.  All of us are assigned to assist homeowners with clean-up from Superstorm Sandy.  The students are doing varied amounts of work, from painting, to demolition work, to yard work.  The kids are working very hard in very extreme weather and should be commended.  Bryan Dufour '14 told me that he has never worked harder - today they were in hazmat suits!

My group painting the house on Long Island

My particular group is helping a woman paint the lower floor of her home in Hempstead, Long Island.  She bought the home three years ago through a foreclosure so the house was in pretty bad shape.  She worked on renovating it and finished a month before the hurricane struck so she is literally starting over again.  I admit that I am not a good painter (ask my wife) so I hope I am not doing more harm than good.  She wasn't happy with one of my paint jobs on one of the doors and I felt bad!  Thank goodness for Mrs. Photiades P'14, she really knows what she's doing.

What has struck me so far about the service is that the people we are assisting are not poor.  In fact, it seems some of them are quite well-off.  The neighborhood we are in, for example, is quite nice and well manicured.  Usually when you do service projects such as this you are working with the poorest of the poor, the homeless, etc.  This week has been a good reminder that the poor in spirit need our help too.

Making a Star of Hope
Last evening we had a presentation by Janine Pizzarriella of Stars of Hope NY-NJ.  This is an organization that was founded after Hurricane Sandy in order to lift the spirits of those who were impacted and was based on a similar program in other parts of the country.

The premise is very simple - people are invited to decorate stars with quotes and images and the stars are hung around the devastated areas on light poles, homes, etc (we saw some today on our way to the work site).  So last night our students (and the adults) decorated stars and we will bring them to our work sites tomorrow to hang up.  It was a really neat project and tied in well as a star is one of the symbols of the Lasallian world.

Tonight we heard a presentation on the two Lasallian colleges the brothers run on the East Coast (Lasalle University in Philadelphia and Manhattan College) and an update on the order's work in Haiti.  We also ran into an old friend which I will write about in another post.

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