From the sub­urbs to the city, stu­dents learn the im­por­tance of giv­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - COMMUNITY -

When Devon Prep Ju­nior Ni­cholas Ry­marow­icz of Bridge­port learned his en­tire class was go­ing on a two day Ser­vice Trip, he wasn’t ex­actly thrilled, and nei­ther were many of his class­mates. How­ever, af­ter the first day of vol­un­teer work they were ex­cited to do it again. “We were not aware of how much these peo­ple needed our aid,” he said. “Af­ter the first day we wanted to help out, and we were ac­tu­ally a lit­tle sad about go­ing home the next day.”

Giv­ing back was the main rea­son all the mem­bers of Devon Prep’s Ju­nior Class re­cently par­tic­i­pated in a Ser­vice Trip which took them to Ger­man­town and South Philadel­phia. It was the first manda­tory trip of this kind for the mem­bers of the class of 2018. The class was di­vided into two groups with some stay­ing at the Aquinas Cen­ter in South Philadel­phia and oth­ers stay­ing at St. Vin­cent de Paul Youth Cen­ter in Ger­man­town.

Through­out the two days the stu­dents were ex­posed to lives much dif­fer­ent than their own. They spent time learn­ing about the com­mu­ni­ties they were visit­ing and speak­ing with res­i­dents. They did vol­un­teer work at sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing the SHARE Food Pro­gram, Stape­ley As­sisted Liv­ing Fa­cil­ity, Mercy Adult Pro­gram, Dig­nity House, Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity, Broad Street Min­istry, and Phi­l­abun­dance.

While visit­ing these fa­cil­i­ties the eleventh graders or­ga­nized and packed boxes of food for Thanks­giv­ing, cleared an over­grown yard for a fu­ture play­ground, served food to the home­less, and spent time with the el­derly.

Ac­cord­ing to the chap­er­ones, the boys ex­pe­ri­enced many dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions than could have been over­whelm­ing but they han­dled it with ma­tu­rity and pos­i­tiv­ity.

“They ex­pe­ri­enced the re­wards of do­ing ser­vice that truly makes an im­pact on some­one else’s life. They were help­ing peo­ple with whom they had no prior re­la­tion­ship,” said Chap­er­one Mr. Mark Con­solo. “They also par­tic­i­pated in dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties where they had to use their own re­sources to com­plete. And they con­nected with their class­mates in ways they would not have at home,” he con­tin­ued. “In talk­ing with them and get­ting their feed­back I can tell that this ex­pe­ri­ence was some­thing spe­cial that will stay with them for years to come.”

Among those ex­pe­ri­ences was the op­por­tu­nity to see first-hand how dif­fi­cult it is for low wage earn­ers to feed a fam­ily. Af­ter learn­ing that many fam­i­lies strug­gle to serve din­ner on a bud­get of less than $8 a day, the ju­niors were charged with try­ing to do the same. They were di­vided into groups and had to buy and make a din­ner for five of their class­mates for $7.50.

“The over­all ex­pe­ri­ence was dif­fi­cult to take in,” Ry­marow­icz said. “I couldn’t be­lieve it. I was so un­aware of how some peo­ple strug­gle to buy and make meals ev­ery day.”

Cae­lan Coyne of West Ch­ester agreed. “This was a great ex­pe­ri­ence to ac­tu­ally go out and see first­hand how much it takes to pro­vide a healthy meal for a fam­ily when you’re lim­ited to such a dif­fi­cult bud­get,” the eleventh grader said. “This ex­pe­ri­ence taught me a lot of things - mostly that you should never be un­will­ing to give back, and to be thank­ful for what you have. It puts an en­tirely new per­spec­tive on a lot of things that I took for granted be­fore.”

That new per­spec­tive is one of the things Devon Prep Teacher Mr. Dy­lan Gavin was hop­ing would hap­pen. Gavin, who teaches math at Devon Prep and also mod­er­ates the school’s Chris­tian Ac­tion Pro­gram (CAP), or­ga­nized the ser­vice trip in hopes that the stu­dents would gain a sense of how for­tu­nate they are and the im­por­tance of giv­ing back to those in need.

“I think that the ju­nior trip ben­e­fited our stu­dents in a num­ber of ways. They got to see an area in which many of the res­i­dents and lo­cals were not as for­tu­nate as our boys have been,” Gavin ex­plained. “I think it was also im­por­tant that the boys ex­pe­ri­enced bond­ing among their class­mates as they all came to­gether to work to­wards a com­mon goal. And I hope that the stu­dents were able to un­der­stand that many of the peo­ple that they are serv­ing are hu­man just as they are, and that their lives may just be trav­el­ing down dif­fer­ent paths.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Devon Prep Ju­niors work in a com­mu­nity gar­den for the neigh­bor­hood sur­round­ing St. Thomas Aquinas Church in South Philadel­phia. The stu­dents were par­tic­i­pat­ing in the school’s Ju­nior Ser­vice Trip to two neigh­bor­hoods in Philadel­phia.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Devon Prep Ju­niors, from left, Cae­lan Coyne of West Ch­ester, Brandon Hoang of Spring­field and Peter Sena of Roy­ers­ford spent two day do­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice in the Ger­man­town sec­tion of Philadel­phia. Among the fa­cil­i­ties they vol­un­teered was the SHARE Food Pro­gram, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion serv­ing a re­gional net­work of com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions en­gaged in food distri­bu­tion, ed­u­ca­tion, and ad­vo­cacy.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Devon Prep Ju­nior Ben­jamin Kil­roy of King of Prus­sia packs boxes of food at the SHARE Food Pro­gram in Ger­man­town as part of the school’s Ju­nior Ser­vice Trip to two neigh­bor­hoods in Philadel­phia.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Devon Prep Ju­niors spent two school days vol­un­teer­ing at var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties in the Philadel­phia area. These young men moved and packed boxes of food at the SHARE Food Pro­gram, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion serv­ing a re­gional net­work of com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions en­gaged in food distri­bu­tion, ed­u­ca­tion, and ad­vo­cacy.

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