Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 28, 2002
Friendship wipes out judgment
Teens learn from serving meals to inner city seniors
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
When Jackie Szaszkiewicz signed up for the Seton Way Project at Archbishop MacDonald High School in lieu of Religious Studies 25, she thought it would be a simple break from the regular classroom type of learning.
She was pleasantly surprised.
"It was something completely unexpected for me," the 16-year-old Szaszkiewicz told the WCR.
Seton Way Project is a personalized formation for service program designed by Sister Gabriela Villela for high school studentes.
Students involved in this project reach out to the community in a variety of services, including Operation Friendship at McCauley Senior Centre.
Once a week, the students volunteer at different centres. When they go back to their classroom, they reflect on their experiences to deepen their sense of social justice.
"I wasn't expecting to meet those really nice people," said Szaszkiewicz.
Before, whenever she saw someone begging on the street, she would say to herself, "They should go out and get a job."
Now she realizes, "They have difficulties with their life that are not so simple to solve. Sometimes they just can't find a job," said the teenager from St. Thomas More Parish.
"I learned first hand not to judge people by what they look like. Now, I see Christ in them all the time, especially when they smile and say 'Thank you.'"
Tony Reid, 16, had no inner city experience before his volunteer work. "I want to be there because it's so different from what I do everyday. I learned that the stereotypes that go around about the people in the inner city are not true."
The students became involved at the centre through the invitation of Grey Nuns Associates who have served meals at Operation Friendship every Sunday for 20 years.
Said Grey Nuns Sister Marcia Wiley, "Our mission in ministry is to love Jesus in service of the poor. . . I see (Christ) in their eyes. And so when I come, I try to serve with love and gentleness, always bearing in mind that we all have dignity and worth."