Dear family, friends, and La Salle Community,
It is our last night and it is currently 11:30PM and we are going to give you highlights of our day today because we are so exhausted.
Five of us traveled to 42nd and Chestnut to Saint Columba’s, a safe haven for chronically homeless men run by Project H.O.M.E.. We met Nelson who is the manager of the kitchen and instructed us on what to do. Our main task was to serve lunch to the residents of the house. After serving lunch, we got to play some chess with Nelson. Apparently, between both Urban Immersion trips, no La Salle student has been able to beat Nelson in chess! Nelson also gave us some life and kitchen lessons such as, “be fast and efficient, everybody has a story.” After lunch, one of the case managers gave us a tour of the house and learned about mental illness, addiction, and homelessness. It was a very fun experience for all of us and as Nelson said “Everyone has a different story.”
A group of fourteen of us went to Sarnelli House in Kensington for the third straight day. Each day Father Kevin had something new for our group to do. Today we had to take wood from the backyard to a dump truck in the front of the house. It took about four hours to move all of the wood and trash to the truck. Some of us have never been so dirty in our lives. Although it was the hottest day of the week, we finished the task and had the backyard looking the best it ever has. Father Kevin was very thankful for our help and we were grateful to be able to help to continue La Salle’s legacy at the Sarnelli House.
A small group of guys went to St. Charles Senior Community Center. Today St. Charles had a “Fun Day with La Salle.” Many games were set up for the seniors to play with a few guys running each station. The seniors also had prizes that they could receive by using the tickets they won from each game. A few guys were set to the industrious task of filing in Mrs. Christie’s office. Afterwards a pool tournament was played between the La Salle guys and the seniors. No La Sallian was able to win against any of the seniors. They were very good at pool but were even better at teaching the game to the inexperienced “young bulls.” It was easy to tell that the seniors enjoyed the company of young guys and were eager to interact with us just as much as we were.
Seven of us continued at St. John’s Hospice on 12th and Race Streets, a couple of blocks from where we were staying. At the lunch hour, we served trays of different casseroles to the men, cleaned trays, and refilled water pitchers. A highlight of this day was as the lunch hour was ending, a man began to play the piano there. His jazzy tunes encouraged two other men to come over and sing. These three men were extremely talented and it was a very touching thing to witness.
Nine of us returned to Holy Innocents today. We finished off mulching the property around the rectory and school. Then the group split up, half swept the church while the other half swept, mopped, and waxed floors in the library and other classrooms. After we finished eating lunch we got a chance to sit down and play and talk to the children of Saint Lucy’s school for the deaf and visually impaired. Even though the deaf children couldn’t hear us and the blind children couldn’t see us our presence made them elated which caused us to become equally elated. They certainly us more than we gave them. After spending 20 minutes with the kids, we finished up the work and final day of service and headed back to St. Peter Claver.
At each one of the sites, we certainly have met courageous men and women who "hunger and thirst for righteousness." They showed us what it means to live out the Gospel and to work for justice.
After a long day of work, we were invited by our neighbors, Women of Hope, for a social. Women of Hope is a residence for women who are experiencing homelessness. All week, we had been waving and exchanging greetings, but hadn’t had the time for a formal gathering. A number of us went there to have water ice and pretzels and visit with the women. The social really got going when we started playing the piano!
After all the groups returned from their service sights, the teachers took us to the Phillies game as a surprise. When we got the Phillies game we wondered the park for about an hour. Then we all met in our section. After the 2nd inning, the weather began to turn and it became real windy and poured rain while it thundered and lightening. So we made the best of it and started bonding with each other by dancing in the rain and starting chants. The game finally resumed and we were lucky enough to get on to the big screen. We decided to leave after the 5th inning because it was getting late. So on the way out the entire group began to sing, chant, and clap. We got back on the subway and arrived back at the church to end a very rewarding week of service.
It's now past midnight and time for bed…
The Philadelphia Urban Immersion Crew
Friday June, 10, 2011 at 09:13PM