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