After another successful trip, Wave-4-Life Moderator Elizabeth Mainardi reflects on her countless trips over the years to Covenant House...
When you go into the bathrooms at Rights of Passage (Covenant House), often there is no toilet paper. That's because the residents there live on $50 a week on average and want to make sure they have enough to last, so they each keep their own rolls in their rooms.
It's a humbling experience to visit a place that values the things I take for granted on a daily basis. Like toilet paper. Or cleaning supplies. Or a package of Halloween Oreos. Or the fact that when I'm done today, I will come home to a fresh meal and a family who loves me. The stark realization hits me every time I visit—there are kids who do without those things on a daily basis.
Covenant House's Right of Passage is a halfway house for youth ages 18-22. It's a place where a young man or woman can live, free of charge, and learn how to keep a clean house, pay bills, work a full-time job, cook meals, and take control of the life that indisputably dealt them a tough hand. But after 18 months, with the help of staff like Ty Warren, these youth move out into an apartment of their own for the first time, ready to face the world.
A group of 9 Wave-4-Life club members, led by coordinators Brian Gallic '20, Jack Readlinger '20, and Jack Townsend '19, gave up their Sunday morning to sleep in and instead, took a trip to that house today to clean and help out with yard work. After Mass with Fr. Hilary O'Leary OSB blessing the group, the bus left around 9:45 for a 10:30 AM arrival. Armed with donations, Halloween decorations, and treats, the boys got to work pretty quickly—Jack Readlinger and Evan Dolan '22 cleaned kitchens and windows, Brian Gallic mopped floors, and John Kapustka '21 swept the staircases. Jack Townsend, Alex Varughese '20, Dennis Collins '21, Matt Morfogen '21, Colin Sutter '21, Declan Traynor '21, Will Ritter '22, and Andrew Madonna '20 worked under the supervision of faculty member Matt White and club moderator Jesse Mazzola to rip out an old vegetable garden and clear the yard of debris. The plan will be to reseed the bare spot in the yard and plant some flowers when we return in the spring.
I always have the moment of panic when we organize these trips. I worry that not enough students will show up. I worry that they won't see the beauty of serving others in the mops, sponges, and gardening gloves. I worry about the weather, and whether or not there will be enough for us to do. But each and every time, I'm always wrong—each trip goes better than I could have guessed, and our students impress me with their willingness to jump in, to help, to be Christ in a small way to the youth living at Rights of Passage. I leave with a sense of anticipation for our next trip—and my experience is, the students do, too.
"You know, you never read about stories like this in the news," our bus driver Jim remarked on the way home, as the boys ate their lunches of Italian sub sandwiches, rice krispie treats, and pretzels. "The news is so full of garbage. They should be telling stories like this, of kids who care about others and go into Newark to serve. That's what I'd like to read about."
Me too, Jim. I couldn't agree more.