Volunteer Profile: Jesuit High School

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In 2014, Jesuit High School students spent a month on site, most of them earning the community ervice hours their school required they complete before they started their senior year. The service requirement at the school is part of a long tradition, and their month of service was but a small part of what they have done for New Orleans and NOAHH. At least 11 times since then (and many times before), students from Jesuit High School have joined NOAHH on site, and they have scheduled another half-dozen visits for this year as well.

“We think it’s important to their development as men of faith and men for others,” said Kevin Murphy, Director of Community Service at Jesuit High School. “Jesuit has what we call the ‘Profile of a Graduate at Graduation,’ which states that our graduates should be intellectually competent, loving, religious, committed to justice, and open to growth. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible for our students to reach that profile unless they’ve engaged in meaningful service.”

Sophomores are required to spend a day of service at some point during their school year, and many of the groups joining NOAHH will be composed of these students. But some are just student groups or teams that have taken on a service project.

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“It is common at Jesuit for a team, club, or other organization to take on a service project,” said Murphy. “It offers our students the opportunity to live out the school’s mission of being ‘men for others,’ and it builds camaraderie among the group.”

The first such group this year was Jesuit’s baseball team. They joined NOAHH on site on Saturday, January 9, in New Orleans East, working on Audry Allen‘s home.

“[They learn] persistence and humility, certainly,” Murphy said. “I’m sure on Saturday some of our students who are very proficient in the class room, or on the pitcher’s mound, or in the batter’s box, will be humbled by a new and difficult challenge on the worksite. One thing I like about working with Habitat is that our students always make mistakes, and the process of acknowledging them and working to fix them is valuable, I think.”

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Working alongside longtime Habitat volunteer Alan Thompson, who is biking around the United States’ perimiter to raise money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity and Save the Children, the students helped set the stage for the final touches on Audry Allen’s home. Thompson, who has volunteered with NOAHH twice before, has been stopping at Habitat affiliates around the country during his trip, often working with other volunteer groups, such as the Jesuit students. The chance for volunteers to work together gives them the chance to learn and find new experiences. That opportunity is part of what brings Jesuit students to Habitat sites.

“These experiences throw students outside (sometimes very far outside) their comfort zones,” Murphy said. “They educate our students about the struggles of folks in their own community and humanize those who do struggle; service experiences provide concrete examples to our students of how they can use their talents to serve others. It shows them that they are part of a broader community and that the health of the entire community is important… [I]t takes our students into low-income parts of town that they may never have visited before, and… the work is hands-on, which works well for teenage boys.”

“Two summers ago, our group installed the floor boards and put up the frame of a house in Hollygrove,” said Murphy. “It was hard work (lots of measuring, cutting, and hammering, but really rewarding). Also, we attended a dedication of a separate home in Broadmoor, which the group really benefitted from. It gave them a glimpse of a finished home, and allowed them to see the payoff of all their hard work.”