by Luke Boiarski, SCN
In early May of last year, I had time to search for different arenas in the US where our SCN Volunteers could serve. I headed south to the sunshine state, where Sisters Kitty
Wilson and Eileen Marcinko were missioned.
After spending a week at St. Michael’s Parish in Wauchula, Florida, a desire to create a program with our province focus “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Violence” came to mind. It wasn’t crystal clear on how I was going to approach this, but one thing was very clear. With financial assistance and with the help of wonderful volunteers, we could come up with something exciting that would assist the needy, the migrant workers and their families.
Just this past August, Sisters Angela Hicks, Nancy Gerth and I, along with 16 volunteers from Spalding University, conducted a weeklong Bible School for the children entitled: “Harvest God’s Gifts”. The daily themes were: PLANT FAITH, SPROUT HOPE, GROW LOVE and PICK KINDNESS. We saw this as a wonderful opportunity to address the issue of bullying. We encouraged tolerance, compassion and nonviolent behavior through skits, music and sharing.
On our last day of Bible School, one young girl, probably no more than 6 years of age, made crosses out of notebook paper and decorated them in a bright array of colors.
She quietly presented her gifts to all the volunteers. Something so little meant so much to all of us. It was a heartwarming moment.
During our time in Wauchula, we conducted classes for women on how to develop their artistic skills and perhaps make an income from their handcrafted products. Sr. Nancy taught them how to make jewelry (bracelets, necklaces and earrings) by creating beads made from recycled paper and magazines. Due to the great interest in both programs and because some mothers were working during the day, we scheduled morning and evening sessions in order to accommodate everyone.
I would like to share this story of how one woman’s life was changed. Eloisa and her husband, Martin, have three children ranging from ages 5- 10. Both have been unemployed for almost two years. Eloisa would bring her projects home and continue to work long hours into the night. I was so impressed when she stated that she now is motivated to open a small business from her home and sell her crafts. She now can envision a way of generating funds for her family.
Sisters Nancy, Angela, Kitty and I are grateful to the Spalding University volunteers and to the women and children of Wauchula. I will cherish the memories of our time together. I am grateful to the members of the Western Province Ministry Fund, who made this mission experience possible.