There is nothing quite like an early morning, a cup of coffee in your hand, and thirty teenage girls standing on your lawn. On such a day, we began to chip away at the list of projects attached to our recent property purchase. Before bids for roofing could be compared, before the handicap access ramp could be poured, and even before we could repaint the big empty rooms, some dirty chores were calling across the lot.
And so it was that one fateful Friday, three staff members, one teacher, and a whole crew of high school girls went to town . . .
“The feeling of getting something done to help people in a way that they needed without expecting anything in return impacted me the most.”
HFO has been experiencing the development of a rich friendship this year between the Academy of Sacred Heart and our tutoring program. Every week, Miss Ali Purpera brings several of her students to volunteer—to sit on the steps and talk with our interns, to keep up on the basketball court, and to coax 7th graders into studying for impending biology tests.
“… not really knowing what it was or who was involved. Now I see how much soul there is in this project and helping out that day made me want to do more.”
Ali teaches, along with several other religion classes, a course in social problems. Amid discussions on poverty and economical struggles, Ali includes a day dedicated to working in the community in hopes of connecting her students with some of the topics on a more personal level.
“The thing that impacted me the most was about halfway through the day, I realized that while I usually have a strong aversion to manual labor, I did not have one thing to complain about. Also, at the end of the work, to see that not one girl had anything to complain about either, even though they all had just spent the day working and getting dirty.”
This year, HFO gratefully hosted the work day. For about four hours we cleaned floors, scraped paint, pulled carpet, hacked at bushes, and wrenched old nails, doors, and fences out of stubborn holds. Who knew that 11th grade girls carry such a penchant for destruction?!
“I had so much fun, probably the most fun I'll ever have ripping up old pieces of a house. Everyone just came together for this big movement, it was amazing.”
In the afternoon, the girls were treated to a lunch hosted by the Opelousas Lighthouse Mission. There we heard about the unexpected situations that lead to poverty, spoke to some heavy demographics in our country, and shared the gospel truth of caring for our neighbors.
“They really opened my eyes to the fact that poverty can happen to anyone no matter the background.”
It is always hard to relate one short-term experience to the reality of another person’s life, but I think that those conversations proved compelling.
“…it helped me realize stability is fragile…”
This day proved to be surprisingly sweet, and not just because we were set upon by a reckoning workforce! We shared our hearts and made new friends. HFO is so grateful for the blessings of that day, and for the chance to work alongside such giving young women.
“I really hope we do this again soon.”
So do we!
“…the Good Samaritan parable taught me not to judge the men who did nothing because I probably would have responded similarly. It also taught me that service is one of the most central requirements of being a Catholic Christian. Having a lot of faith isn't enough, and service without faith isn't enough either.”