Truly Unforgettable: An Appalachia Service Project Experience

Freshman Gavin McGagh reflected in his own words about his week spent in Jonesville, Virginia with the Appalachia Service Project. This is one of multiple service immersion trips that CBA students take throughout each school year. He covered the trip with a series of videos for the CBA Digital Network here.

Early in the school year, I decided that I was really interested in attending one of the CBA service immersion trips.

In December, I applied for the February trip to Appalachia. Once I received the email that I was approved to attend, I was simultaneously excited and anxious. Excited because I knew it was going to be an incredible experience, but also a bit anxious because I didn’t know the other students who were going on the trip. While we were initially projected to have six students and two teachers attend the trip, it ultimately ended up being just four students and two teachers, Mr. Sewnig and Mr. Hanley.

Although prior to the trip I was unfamiliar with the other students, by the time we got into the rental car at the Tri-City airport in Tennessee, I soon discovered we had many similarities, one being our taste in music.

Once we arrived in Jonesville, Virginia, we were greeted by the warm staff of the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). Shortly after that, we went to the home where we were scheduled to begin work the following day to see what we were working with, as well as to rough draft how we would accomplish our project. Our main goal at this home was to finish building a ramp for the 93-year-old handicapped homeowner. Once we started building, we found our groove, but soon after we realized one major mistake: we forgot to level the spindles with the rail.

With hard work, perseverance and some great leadership, we were able to complete the ramp ahead of schedule and were then also able to build two sets of stairs and install siding on part of a home at the ASP facility.

Over the week spent in Appalachia, we not only helped those in need, but we also got to know one another. I found that by working together toward a similar goal, we could accomplish great things in a timely manner. We were also exposed to an area of our country that is very different from where we are from, with poverty being very prevalent.

Overall, this experience was truly unforgettable. It helps me to appreciate all that I am blessed with and makes me look forward to attending more service trips in the future.

About Christian Brothers Academy:
Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) is a private, Catholic, academic preparatory school for boys located in Lincroft, New Jersey. Founded in 1959 and taught in the Lasallian tradition, CBA is dedicated to helping students become intellectually mature and morally responsible leaders for society. Through generous contributions from family and friends of the Academy, CBA awards over $2.3 million in scholarships and financial aid to current students. Experience the Academy at