By Elizabeth Lowe
A week-long mission trip to an Indian reservation in Montana earlier this year changed Joseph Stephan’s outlook on life – and was the impetus for him organizing a service day earlier this month that involved all 288 members of Calvert Hall’s senior class and 21 faculty members.
“That (Montana) is where it hit me that service is a major part of my life,” said Stephan, a Calvert Hall senior and student body president. “Before coming to Calvert Hall, I was never exposed to it (service). After I got started with it, it took off from there.”
Stephan is in Calvert Hall’s competitive, four-year McMullen Scholar Program, which culminates with an independent project. The 17-year-old selected a service- oriented project, which was approved by an administrator at the Towson school.
“The whole concept of doing service and giving back was fresh on my mind (from Montana),” said Stephan, a parishioner of Sacred Heart, Glyndon. “A lot of people do papers or experiments for their projects. I wanted to do something that would make a difference.”
To view a slideshow of the event captured by Calvert Hall senior Evan Zimmer, click the arrows below.
In groups, more than 300 Calvert Hall students and staff went to 10 sites across Baltimore Nov. 14, including Immaculate Heart of Mary in Baynesville, Moveable Feast and Our Daily Bread, both in Baltimore.
“What does this really mean?” said Stephan, who noted more than 1,000 hours of service was performed Nov. 14. “I want them to make that connection.”
Stephan was one of 125 students who spent about three hours beautifying the grounds at The Samaritan Women, a Maryland-based Christian nonprofit that works for social justice against human trafficking and has a transitional residence program for female victims of trafficking.
More than 12 million people are trafficked in 161 countries for sexual exploitation or labor, according to Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services.
The Calvert Hall students worked on 2.5 acres of The Samaritan Women’s 23 acres landscaping, planting trees and raking leaves, among other outdoor tasks. Some students worked in the residence, removing old shutters stored in the basement, painting and sanding.
Amanda Grant, The Samaritan Women’s community coordinator, commends Calvert Hall’s volunteerism.
“This is what it’s about,” Grant said. “It’s about service and turning our words into action.”
Senior Ben Park, who stood in a trench and shoveled dirt, peeled off his sweatshirt and sunk into the mud as he got to work.
“It’s a noble idea because a lot of people don’t get the experience to do this,” said Park, a parishioner of St. Stephen, Bradshaw. “It’s a good use of manpower.”
Meaghan Tracey, Calvert Hall’s campus minister and service coordinator, estimates Stephan spent about 100 hours coordinating the service day.
“Joe’s very, very committed to everything that he does and he works very, very hard,” Tracey said. “When you walk away from Calvert Hall you walk away as someone who is willing to be of service to others. He really feels that Calvert Hall has given him that. He wants to bring the class together to say that 288 of us can really do a lot.”
Copyright (c) Nov. 15, 2012 CatholicReview.org