Class provides opportunity for Mooney students to help others
By Denise Dick
Cardinal Mooney High School senior Rob Rivera realizes how lucky he is through participation in the school’s Christian service class.
Students enrolled in the elective class visit 54 places each week, from preschools and nursing homes to community-service agencies and schools.
“I enjoy helping others and giving back to the community,” said Rivera, 18, of his reasons for enrolling in the class.
Susan Doyle Trewella, program director, said four students visit each site, with the class visiting 14 places per day. The sites include nursing homes, food banks and soup kitchens.
The class allows young people the opportunity to serve, something Trewella says they’re “hard-wired” to do.
“Some of the students are profoundly changed,” Trewella said. “A lot of them walk in thinking they want to study one thing and end up studying something completely different.”
The students also form bonds with the people they help. Some students invited nursing-home residents home for Christmas dinner, and last year, students stopped on their way to prom at one of the nursing homes they frequent.
On Thursday, the 98 students in the course visited preschools throughout the area. Rivera, Dawayne Jones, 18, and Jaci D’Apolito and Hailey Sturtz, both 17, spent part of their morning in the preschool at Kirkmere Elementary School.
Rivera sat in a tiny chair in the preschool room, helping Chloe Faraglia, 4, and Koryn McCauley and Michael Guminski, both 5, cut out construction-paper hats for St. Patrick’s Day.
Rivera said he enjoys his visits to Kirkmere and seeing the smiles on the young children’s faces.
The children, age 3 to 5, look forward to the weekly visits from the “big kids,” said preschool teacher Verna Jones.
“Whatever they’re doing, they just jump right in and help them with it,” she said of the Mooney students.
The preschool program is very structured and academic.
It’s not day care, Verna Jones stressed.
Jones said he enrolled in the class because he likes to help people and also because he thought it would look good on a college r sum .
“There are a lot of people out there that need help,” he said.
Jones recalled a particularly touching episode while volunteering at Gleaners Food Bank.
He was cold, and a woman who was at the facility to get food removed her gloves and game them to him.
“That really touched me,” Jones said.
D’Apolito and Sturtz sat surrounded by little ones, making Play-Doh houses for plastic models of the three little pigs.
They both named Kirkmere as one of their favorite places to visit. D’Apolito also especially likes the weekly stops at the Purple Cat, a program for adults with disabilities, while Sturtz enjoys reading for blind people.
Even though some of the places they visit include people with sad stories, they say they enjoy the time they spend there.
“Nursing homes can be kind of sad, but I see a woman named Dorothy, and I know it just makes her day when we go there,” Sturtz said. “She tells me stories about when she was young.”