When the CBA Campus Ministry launched “Challenge 300” in June, the goal was to encourage CBA students to complete 300 hours of service in honor of the 300th anniversary of St. John Baptist De La Salle’s birth into eternal life.
Two Academy men took that challenge and ran with it, completing major service projects over their two-plus month vacation time.
Senior Dugan Straine traveled to Guatemala to participate in a program called “From Houses to Homes.” The organization helps build houses and provide medical care and education to encourage and support the community in the improvement of the quality of residents’ lives.
Straine and a group of five other volunteers were assigned to help expand a family’s home. The family had eight people, including parents and children ranging from three to 19 years old, living in a small house with little amenities. For one week, Straine’s group helped construct the expansion of the house from the ground up, while also furnishing the new addition for the family.
“My biggest takeaway from this experience was appreciating the things that you normally take for granted, like electricity, your own bed, shoes, clean clothing, and many other things that we consider standard,” Straine said. “Being able to see these things firsthand, helps you to become a more optimistic person.”
Meanwhile, senior Alec Noe went above and beyond by traveling on the service immersion trip to Florida and leading both Nights of Service at CBA, accounting for an incredible 75 hours of service in two months. For context, CBA students are only required to do 50 hours throughout four years, although a majority of the students surpass that number.
“Being on the first group of CBA students to go on the Florida service immersion trip was really a great experience for me,” Noe said. “We really were going with no expectations, but in hindsight, I’m happy we did. The relationship each CBA student had with the kids at the school was unbelievable. The children shed a few tears as we pulled out on the last day and the kids surrounded our van like we were superstars, yelling goodbyes. The trip ended up really being about the kids and our relationships with them, which is probably what St. LaSalle would’ve wanted.”
Noe was a leader at both Nights of Service that were held at CBA. On both those evenings, students joined to cook for the homeless, prepare lunches for Asbury Park trips, sorted gently used clothes for the needy, and organized food drive donations. The group is also put together school supplies for over 400 children in Monmouth County.
“Our Nights of Service were amazing in terms of attendance and donations,” Noe said. “My genuine expectation was just to see the usual faces moving some boxes around late into the night, but I was pleasantly surprised with a great showing by new faces, including our new freshmen.”
With the school year now in full swing, CBA students will have plenty of opportunities to get involved in service work. After all, the Class of 2018 graduated with over 26,000 combined hours of service, an average of 113 per student.
Students are welcome to contact Mr. Butler, Director of Campus Ministry, with questions or new service ideas.