As the LYSIT trips finish their experiences of answering the call to serve, Ms. Connie Saho, one of the adult chaperones to SWAP, wrote a reflective letter to the students' parents. The letter is a great example of the reason service is part of our educational foundation that we would like to share it with our Lasallian community.
I wanted to take this opportunity to share my observations of our LYSIT experience in Hindman, KY. Your sons went so far above and beyond my expectations that it is mind blowing. Many of the guys on this trip were very young - Freshmen going into Sophomore year. When I realized that they were going to be putting roofs on houses my heart skipped a few beats. I honestly didn't think they would be capable of managing this task. I couldn't do it and I really had serious doubts that they would be able to do it.
With the help of Mr. Steve Dangel, a skilled carpenter and a man with the patience of a saint, they put on one shingled roof and one metal roof. One team was asked to power wash a metal roof and then paint it with several coats of protective paint. They also built a handicap ramp for one family and installed sheet rock in the ceiling of a trailer for another family. Steve Dangel taught them how to measure and cut the wood for the ramp, how to install new plywood and then put the roof together.
Talk about an educational experience!!! The young men on this team learned so much about carpentry and roofing. However, they also learned compassion and caring. They interacted with the families that we were helping on a daily basis and had to make conversation. All three of the families that we helped were absolutely amazed by your sons. One family was in tears after our final dinner together because they were so appreciative of the gift your sons gave to them. A gift of a new roof and even more a gift of kindness and conversation. They loved getting to know your boys.
Chris Winiarski and Jeff Weirman led the boys in prayer and spiritual reflection every morning and evening. This was so very important to help your sons grow spiritually. I am sure this mission trip to Appalachia was a life experience that they will never forget.
In this crazy world we are living in where we are slammed with so much negative info on the evening news - I had the rare and wonderful privilege of watching your sons make the world a better place. Campus Ministry has signs in the hall that say GO DO GOOD - and your sons did just that.
On a cold night in late October, when your boys are snuggling under the covers in their nice, warm beds - they might think of those three families in Hindman that are warm and dry in their homes because they answered the call to serve.
You should be so very proud of your sons. They got up at 6 am every morning, they packed their own lunches and water bottles, they were in bed by 11 pm every night and they were limited to one 5 minute shower per day. They did not argue, bicker or complain - and no one fell off of a roof.
It was an adventure and life changing experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Thank you for raising such amazing young men. It was an absolute pleasure to take part in this LYSIT with your sons.
Connie A. Saho