Blue Jay Service Project Volunteers Learn About Being Men for Others
As Blue Jays settle into the school-year routine, seniors will reflect on their volunteer work over the summer. Those volunteer services are part of Jesuit’s Community Service Project. Through service, each Blue Jay learns the most valuable gift is becoming men for others.
Over the course of the summer, 273 rising juniors volunteered with 36 agencies both near and far. Many students worked right here in metro New Orleans, tutoring at the Good Shepherd School, building houses with Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, or assisting the disabled at St. Michael Special School, for example. Others traveled outside of New Orleans, working as counselors at overnight camps for children with disabilities in Mississippi or Alabama, or performing manual labor in the Appalachia region of Virginia, or in rural communities in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Junior Service Project
The Junior Service Project is scheduled as a part of the students’ academic curriculum during the second semester of junior year and the first semester of senior year. During junior year, students choose a service agency and turn in a Community Service Project contract. The students then work on their projects. During senior year, they write a reflection essay and hold a post-project interview with Community Service Project director, Kevin Murphy.
A’s and Aces
Each summer, roughly a dozen rising Jesuit seniors do their service project with A’s and Aces. The organization provides academic assistance, life skills, and tennis instruction for New Orleans public school children. A’s and Aces runs camps at three locations: Dillard University, Joe Brown Park, and the Stern-Atkinson Tennis Center.
Courts for Kids (Costa Rica)
Each year, Jesuit offers a number of service trips to Latin America through Courts for Kids, a nonprofit organization devoted to expanding athletic opportunities in developing parts of the world. In June of 2015, Mr. Julio Minsal-Ruiz, S.J. and Mr. Kevin Murphy chaperoned a group of 19 Blue Jays on a trip to the community of El Encanta, in the northern-central part of Costa Rica. The group stayed in pairs with local host families, and spent the bulk of their days constructing a multi-purpose sports court next to the town’s elementary school.
Krewe de Camp
Every May, approximately 30 Blue Jays volunteer at Krewe de Camp, a long-running overnight camp on the north shore for children with developmental disabilities. Jesuit students are paired with campers for the week, serving as their buddy and caretaker. Activities include swimming, outdoor games, arts and crafts, concerts, a dance, and a fair. Krewe de Camp is run by a committed group of volunteers, including Stephen Green, Class of ’01, who serves as the camp’s director.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association of Louisiana runs a weeklong overnight camp each June in Pollack, Louisiana for children with various neuromuscular diseases. Each year, roughly a dozen Blue Jays volunteer at the camp, helping their assigned campers have the best possible experience. Jesuit faculty member Mr. Timothy Falter, Class of ’02, has attended the camp every year since 2001, when he was fulfilling his Jesuit service project requirement. Numerous other Blue Jay alums have made the camp an annual tradition as well.
MedCamps of Louisiana
2015 was Jesuit’s first year partnering with MedCamps of Louisiana, which provides eight week-long overnight camps for children with various disabilities. Approximately ten Blue Jays completed their service project with MedCamps in 2015. The camps are located at Camp Alabama, in Choudrant, LA.
Nearing its 50th year, Jesuit’s Operation Upgrade serves economically disadvantaged, at-risk male youths. A combination of Jesuit faculty members and student volunteers provide academic enrichment to the Upgraders. The day consists of a group reading period; exercises in English, math, and problem solving; and recreation. For a recent article on Operation Upgrade, see here.
Sophomore Day of Service
Second Harvest Food Bank
On ten Saturdays throughout the school year, groups of sophomores head out into the community to live out Jesuit’s mission of being men for others. Second Harvest Food Bank is a common work site for the sophomores. There the students sort and package donated food, which is later delivered to churches, community centers, and schools around the New Orleans metro area.