Nineteen Iona Prep students gave up their February winter vacation to help people in one of the poorest communities in Kentucky.
The students participated in activities such as Habitat for Humanity home construction, working in a food pantry and helping local community churches in Vanceburg, KY, in the northeastern part of the state. In addition, they visited a nursing home as well as those with mental illnesses.
Along with this one-week experience, students were responsible to fend for themselves.
“The whole trip we had to do everything ourselves, including cooking, cleaning and other things that many of us were not used to doing on an everyday basis,” said Iona Prep senior Matthew Berni, 18, of Yonkers, during an interview after he returned to New Rochelle.
In addition, the volunteer students left behind all their electronic devices and were cut off from their everyday routine for an entire week.
“It was tough not having a phone or a computer, but then you realize how fortunate we really are and how much these people appreciate what we are doing for them,” said Berni.
Their time in Kentucky taught them the value of helping others who are less fortunate.
“Yes, I would go back if I had the opportunity,” said Alex Cola, 16, a junior from Yonkers. “It was a great learning experience as far as the sites we went to, and it was a great feeling doing charity work and helping out people.”
The students worked at the Glenmary Farm, a Catholic volunteer program aimed at serving people of Appalachia, the South and Southwest.
Along with students on the trip were the Director of Campus Ministries Anthony Casella, faculty member Robert Eaton and JV football coach John Musacchino.
“It gave them an opportunity they wouldn’t ordinarily have, and I would say it opened up most of their eyes,” said Casella. “I hope they realized they can make a difference.”