Volunteers Swing Into Action

The crew at Kelly’s house takes a break for a photo.

Deck boards made easy!

Wheelchair ramp taking shape.

The crew at Joyce’s home takes a break from the hot attic work and poses for a photo.

Adding sealer to Kelly’s roof

The Catholic Summer Initiative is a joint service effort of the youth groups of our parishes. A tradition for parish teens for a number of years, the weeklong volunteer experience at Sacred Heart Southern Missions offers spiritual and civic engagement in a fun and exciting atmosphere. The teens learn about struggles in our community and are reminded that the statistics of poverty and need that they hear each day are not just numbers, but real people.

The young men and young women each have their own week in which to work on a variety of projects throughout the organization—from working with kids at summer camp to repairing homes for those in need to feeding the hungry in our soup kitchen.

This past week, we hosted the Catholic Summer Initiative for Young Women. Sixteen girls from our churches banded together to tackle three jobsites in Horn Lake and Nesbit. Working with Paul, Kelly and Mr. Lee, the young ladies proved that there was braun behind those pretty faces.

Breaking into three teams, the girls accomplished several large projects, including replacing flooring and a water heater at Kelly’s home as well as cleaning out Joyce’s attic and extracting the old attic stairs. You may remember both of these ladies from previous issues of our newsletter.

Another project on the girls’ list was building a wheelchair ramp for Everett. Everett is a relatively new client to SHSM.

A little more than a year ago, Everett had a tragic accident. In a split second, his life was changed forever. A motorist plowed into him, crushing him and the motorcycle he was riding. Everett spent more than three months in the hospital recuperating. During his hospital stay he had a lot of time to think. In his mid-40s, he had settled into a descent job and things were going okay… until the crash. Now knowing he would be permanently confined to a wheelchair, he had no idea what to do.

In January, Vickey, a friend who was taking care of Everett, called Sr. Janice Richards on his behalf. A social worker at Baptist Hospital had recommended SHSM and shared that we could be of assistance to Everett in his time of need. Sr. Janice invited Vickey to come in.

Vickey explained Everett’s situation and showed Sr. Janice a photo from the accident scene. There was little left of the motorcycle, and what was worse, the driver had no insurance. “It’s a miracle Everett survived,” said Janice.

After more conversation, Sr. Janice learned that Everett was benefitting from a short-term disability policy through his employer, but that coverage would end within a month. She was shocked to find out that no one had suggested that he apply for disability and immediately recommended that it be put at the top of their list. Before Vickey left, Sr. Janice made sure they had plenty of food and stated she would help with the disability claim. Everett was then put on the volunteer program’s project list for a wheel chair ramp.

Always tenacious, Sr. Janice followed up with Everett several times, making sure he kept records of his medical visits and suggesting ways to expedite his disability claim. By the first week of June, Everett was receiving disability benefits. As luck would have it, he was also scheduled for ramp construction as well.

Five young women with the Catholic Summer Initiative were tasked with the project. Working along side Mr. Lee last week, the girls were able to give Everett back some of his independence he had lost just one short year ago.

With each task, all of these young ladies were empowered to go out and make a meaningful difference in our community. The work they accomplished not only changed their lives, but also the lives of people in need.

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