Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 23, 2008
Student group dedicated to service in the community
Archbishop Jordan teens engage in non-stop help to those who are in need
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"These young adults provide just an unbelievable amount of inspiration for all of us."
- Principal Lorne Monaghan
Tanya Gariepy, the teacher who leads the 40-member group, says she and the students volunteer because there is a need. "We are a Catholic school so there is the idea that we give back and we take care of our community of people as brothers and sisters - that's ingrained in our school."
The community group has been active for seven years and its main purpose is to fundraise and volunteer for charities in Sherwood Park and surrounding areas. In the beginning, the group organized one service project a year. But since Gariepy took over two years ago it has been tackling one project a month.
Group members are excited to participate, she said. "They want to do this. I don't have to bribe or beg them. I just say 'Who wants to go to the Mustard Seed Church to serve dinner?' and they all go 'Me, me, me.'"
One way the group raises funds for its projects is through a popular talent show every December. They charge a $1 admission in addition to auctioning a couch for those who want to sit in the front row. Some students pay up to $500 for the privilege.
Group members have served dinner twice at the inner-city Mustard Seed Church, most recently in mid-May to more than 400 homeless people.
During their first visit in February they learned of the need for undergarments for men, women and children. So they decided to run an "underwear affair" campaign and ended up collecting close to 80 pair of new underwear, which Gariepy delivered to the Mustard Seed June 6.
"We should share our wealth instead of being the greedy ones and keeping it all for ourselves," said student Aleena Forstey, who made the bins to collect the undergarments. "Some people don't have anything so it's nice to show that we are there for them. Instead of buying lunch, we can buy a pair of underwear."
Student Brittany Kula, 18, got involved in the group "because I wanted to branch out" a bit from Sherwood Park, "a rich community that doesn't have a lot of people living on the streets."
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Students of teacher Richard Borowski's Grade 12 art class at Archbishop Jordan High School each painted one panel in this three-by-five meter depiction of Jesus that now hangs in the school.
"I wanted to go and actually experience the kind of thing that they go through in Edmonton's inner city."
The experience changed Kula, who used to look the other way or cross the street when she saw a streetperson.
"I was under the impression that homeless people were all addicts but many of them aren't; some of them are actually quite educated," she said. "I think I've grown to be a lot more respectful of people in that situation."
Kelsey Douglas, 17, recalled with fondness how she helped to make and serve the food at the Mustard Seed Church May 15.
"This time we had ham and rice and vegetables and we bought them cookies," she said. "I though it was very interesting because I didn't know what to think, what these people would be like. But everyone was really nice and positive and they wanted to talk. I was just surprised how friendly and welcoming all these people are."
Added Douglas: "I think I want to learn about our community and want to be able to help these people out because I feel very fortunate that I get to live in Sherwood Park and come to school, have a home and three meals a day.
"These people deserve someone to feed them and someone to care for them because most of the time it's not their fault that they got in this situation."
The Archbishop Jordan community group is well known in the community and constantly receives invitations to participate in volunteer projects.
In October it participated in Halloween for Hunger, which collected more than 2,000 items of food for the Strathcona Food Bank, and later it donated 38 Nano Ipods and a cheque for $1,700 to the Youth Emergency Centre to help the young people there enjoy the holidays.
Group members have also baked cookies for the volunteers who build homes for Habitat for Humanity and have participated in activities such as the gift of life run/walk for the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the 18 km Walk for Darfur from Ikea to downtown Edmonton.
"We walked just to show support for the people of Darfur and to raise awareness about the crisis there," said Forstey, 16. "We support the cause for peace in Darfur."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.