From: Elizabeth Kestler, Love Chapel executive director
In the world of East and North seniors, the senior project may bring anxiety, then exhaustion, and finally exhilaration once the project has been completed. And that could be the end of the story. But it’s not.
For many in our community who have so little, the completion of senior projects is the start of much needed assistance for them. Over the years the work of some students whose senior projects were to benefit the clients of Love Chapel has impacted hundreds of families. This year was no different.
Another real benefit, and perhaps an unintended consequence for the senior, is an important lesson in volunteerism and the need for it within any community. Love Chapel, like so many local agencies, depends upon volunteers to join with their small cadre of paid staff to administer their programs and work with their clients.
This year Love Chapel started a program to assist seniors with their projects and familiarize them with the outreach mission of Love Chapel and the importance of volunteers to fulfill that mission. Seniors who indicated interest in Love Chapel projects at the annual senior project fairs were contacted for an interview, assigned a Love Chapel volunteer as a mentor and oriented to the support services of Love Chapel.
Throughout the school year, senior project students worked with their mentors and Love Chapel project coordinators Sue Bodach and Joyce Heckman, who maintained contact with the high schools and the mentors and followed the progress of the students.
Projects completed by 2018 seniors for the benefit of Love Chapel included a benefit Christmas concert, hand-made jewelry sale, Christmas cookie bake sale and food drives. Students built a picnic table and shelves for Brighter Days, the Love Chapel homeless shelter. A senior dressed as one of Santa’s elves distributed Christmas goody bags to children at the food pantry. Another sponsored “Turnover Hunger” and collected pledges for each opponent’s turnover that his football team created.
We truly are fortunate to have a community that provides programming that encourages volunteering. Additionally, encouraging youth to understand the necessity of helping others.