New Blessings From Rochester
Hello supporters of Carroll Headlighters! Yesterday was our day to work and play as a group. First, we went to a place called Bethany House, which is a house for women and women with children who need a place to stay, a warm meal, or help finding community resources. Being that there were 14 of us we were able to make quick work of some housekeeping and organizing. We were assisted by other volunteers that periodically stopped by, most with their own story of how Bethany house had been a resource for them in the past. One in particular was still searching for a job but took time every week to stop by and do what she could. The love and compassion that she had for her fellow women of Rochester was inspiring. After Bethany house we went to the National Museum of Play and later we found ourselves at a Barbeque joint called Sweet Lips. Everyone ate way too much and had a great time.
Thursday came so fast, and I can’t believe everything that we have seen, done and talked about over the past five days. Dan, Kelly and I all worked at Nazareth Elementary School run by The Sister’s of Saint Joseph. Being an elementary education major I have seen my fair share of schools, but this one by far has a special quality that I have yet to see anywhere else. The school is truly rooted in Catholicism and the idea that every child deserves an exceptional education. I think we also noticed right away the diversity within the school and the way it’s treated as a blessing, which is celebrated within each classroom. Seeing that will definitely be some of my favorite memories from this week. Kelly, Dan and I were all assigned separate grades to work with throughout the week. Dan was sent to 5th and 6th. Kelly was sent to 3rd and I was sent to Kindergarten! It has been an awesome experience for all three of us. These children have touched our hearts and have made us laugh so much.
Meeting the sisters has also been an amazing experience and I am awestruck at all the ways that these women serve the people of Rochester. Tonight we all ate dinner at the motherhouse of the Sisters and were given the opportunity to learn more about the Sister’s of Saint Joseph. All in all I think this week has been a huge blessing and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it.
With love from Rochester,
Greetings from Rochester!!!!
“Jesus said to them “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34
For the past few days Chelsea, Alex, and Candie Cain have all been working at Hope Hall in Rochester, New York. Hope Hall was started in 1994 by Sister Diana Dolce. During the years leading up to the opening of Hope Hall, Sister Diana was working with students that are “at-risk” or “educationally stranded,” in different schools around the area of Rochester. Sister Diana wanted to open her own school, but the dioceses of Rochester would not give her the money nor allow her to do this. In the end, Sister Diana opened this school with her own money. And with her own time, created this school to help these students that are struggling in school.
The name for the school came from her talking with some of her students. The students that she was helping out wanted to go to Nazareth Hall, another school here in Rochester; however, there was no way they would be able to get in with the test scores they had. During the programs, the students told Sister Diana that what she was doing was giving them hope for the future. So the name came to be Hope Hall. The students that are admitted to this private school need to have a diagnosed auditory learning disability and are in grades 3 – 12.
From the minute we walked through the doors of Hope Hall, we could feel the love and compassion that everyone has for everyone else. When we first met Sister Diana, we were amazed and could see the compassion that she has for all of her students. She always has a smile and she always in ready to help anyone that is in need of help.
According to Candie, all of the children that are at Hope Hall are a gift from God no matter who they are. They are no longer forgotten children in the school system, for Hope Hall is an intentional school to make sure that these children are never forgotten. Our job while we are there is to instill the hope in all of the children in Hope Hall.
Alex has had an experience of a life time. He is going to be a teacher and being able to sit and experience this was amazing. On Tuesday, he had an experience that confirmed his teaching vocation. While helping in English class, he looked and saw the student teacher helping students with their rough drafts, the master teacher helping a student that is definitely below the rest of their class, a student at the computer typing with 2 fingers, one letter at a time, and the rest of the class working silently. He looked out over this all and felt a complete joy and he knew that if it hadn’t been for Hope Hall these students would not be there, and he knew that he was meant to be a teacher and be the hope to these students just like their teachers are to them.
Chelsea said that is it really hard to put into words the work that she has done. From the kids in her class that are autistic but is ready to help and want to help do everything. Chelsea had an experience at lunch one day, where there was a girl that asked her what college was like. Chelsea answered and said it was fun and awesome. The little girl went on to ask if she could go to college. Chelsea told her that she could definitely go to college no matter what. The little girl was so excited because now she has a dream that she can hold onto, Chelsea had given her the hope that she hadn’t had to have dream.
Our challenge is to be Christ like, and Christ called us to be teachers. What a gift it has been to serve with those who understands and believes God’s message of teaching, hoping, loving, and serving. The work of Sister Diana and her staff has made us all realize how much of a blessing it is for Rochester to have a place like Hope Hall. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a place like Hope Hall in every school district of the world?
In humility and in love,
Chelsea, Alex, and Candie
Day 2 of Rochester
Today we began the day off with going to mass at St. Monica’s parish in Rochester. The pastor there was Fr. Ray Flemming. He is from Butte, MT. The mass was wonderful. I was so shocked to see the way that the community was so open with everyone whether they knew them or not. At the sign of peace, the entire congregation left the pews they were in and traveled around the entire church to give peace to everyone they could meet. The love and compassion that we saw at this church really spoke to me and showed me that we need to be like this no matter where we are.
When we returned to the Sister’s home, we reflected on what we heard or saw at mass that stood out. For me, the first reading was what stuck out to me the most. The story was the call of Moses in the burning bush. I saw this as a call for us. We are all being called this week to go to the people that are oppressed and lonely and show them the love of God.
In the afternoon, we traveled through the city and learned about all of the different places that we will be serving this week. We prayed and blessed the people that will be serving in these places through this week. While traveling through the city, we were all able to get a sense of the world that we will be entering into for this week.
At the end of the day, we all had a reflective prayer with the sisters. During this reflecting we all shared about the wonders that we are going to be expecting this week. We compared our experience with a pool. We are all in the shallow end of the pool and are just wading in. This week, we are all holding hands are ready to jump into the deep end of the pool and see where the waves will take us.
Hey! Marcie, Stephanie and Jerraca here, checking in from Rochester.
Our trip all started at 4:30 am at Carroll on Saturday morning. We arrived only to find out that some of us are very heavy sleepers – I guess the saying goes ‘better late then never’, we all made it through security and boarded the plane in our matching Headlights shirts.
Headlights? Many quizmatic looks by passerbys in the airport. The herd in the grey shirts with the ‘C’ halo. A flight attendant questioned if we were a traveling cheerleading team. It then became a running joke that Dan Thies (one of our leaders) was the choreography coach. We may not have stunts, but we sure do have spirit.
All was well until we arrived at the JFK airport – until we realized that the airport is a lot bigger than Helena’s. Candie and Kelly somehow got separated from the rest of us and we were all running in several directions. Yikes! You know those people running in the airport helplessly dragging their luggage behind them? That was us. The cheerleaders frantically jogging to find gate B4. By the time we got there we were ten minutes late for our fight. Defeat. But after several minutes of walky-talky beeps from one New Yorker to the other, the airport staff quickly got us on our feet and told us to run… the flight had waited.
Stepping onto the plane we all were nervous that the other people on the plane would be frustrated by the delay in their flight. We walked back as fast as we could with our heads down so that we could get the half an hour flight over with. As we filed to our seats in the back, a woman that Katherine sat by seemed so over-joyed to see us. She extended her hand and her gentle heart asking our names, and she replied ‘Sister Loraine’. Coming back from a vacation, Sister Loraine is one of the sisters that we are staying with at St. Josephs. When we touched down to Rochester we were all so relieved to finally be closer to what we were called to do – serve others and grow in relationships and faith.
After four bags being lost and Candie and Kelly arriving two hours later, we were all finally eating dinner, laughing and reminiscing about the day and what was to come. Each of the sisters mirrored Sister Loraine in the love, joy, and sincerity of their hearts and lives that they live.
Here is to a beautiful week of service and transformation.
Only a few days and spring break will be here! For the 38 travelers setting out next weekend there is much studying and packing to do. However, the group is excited for the experience of Immersion. Leading up to the trip we have been meeting each week to plan for our fundraisers as well as to learn about our trips to Kansas City, Rochester and Denver.
Please follow our blog as we travel next week. The Kansas City group will begin the 18 hour drive on Friday afternoon and the other two groups will leave on Saturday morning.
We are thankful for all who have helped us prepare both through prayer and financially and to those who will host and work with us.
Miranda Van Lieshout
Plans for this year’s Headlights Immersion trips are underway and students are beginning fundraising activities. This year we have 13 students going to Guatemala in May. On January 6th another 12 students are traveling to Browning, MT to spend a week at the De La Salle Blackfeet School. Over spring break we have the most students signed up for trips that I have seen in 9 years, which is great! Students will be going to Rochester, NY, Kansas City, KS, and Denver, CO and all trips are full!
Students are beginning fundraising this week by selling raffle tickets. For Guatemala, 300 tickets are being sold for a chance to win a weekend in Glacier Park, tickets are $20. For the spring trips we are raffling off gift certificates to local restaurants. To buy tickets email Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Important dates to keep in mind are February 9th for our annual spaghetti dinner at St. Mary’s church and then again on April 27th for a dinner and a silent auction to raise funds for the Guatemala trip.
Finally, we will be keeping our blog for all of these trips. Please check in at: https://carrollheadlights.org/ to see what the students are up to!
Miranda Van Lieshout
I spent the week at Daystar, a daycare for children 3 years and younger, who are “medically fragile”. It was an amazing experience! The organization does so much for these children and their families who cannot afford to pay a nurse all day to cater to medication and specific diet requirements. Daystar volunteeers attempt to mimick the care that the kids would be given at home from their parents. They spend all day singing, dancing, and showering their love on the kids. It is so inspiring! The children are not treated like patients of their care. They are given a completely normal daycare experience, playing with other children and enjoying the day. They just also happen to be given the medical attention they need throughout the day.
Another element of Daystar that I got to experience was the many types of therapy that the children receive, though their parents may not be able to pay for it. Physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and even music therapists came in and out, all maintaining the same loving and optimistic attitude of the employees. I am studying pre-physical therapy and found it to be an amazing blessing to get to witness their work with the children. I have never considered pediatric care, but this trip forced me to reevaluate what I may want to do in the future.
Of course, another component of our trip was staying at a house with 4 of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. They have so much wisdom and have seen first-hand a lot of the need in their community and in this country. They are also extremely aware of the needs of other regions in the world, such as natural resources. Because of this, they live very conscientiously of their waste and their ability to recycle. They limit shower time and they wash and reuse everything! It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be to be so conservative of resources. To avoid leaving lights on, I found myself walking around in the dark a lot! 🙂
Overall, I loved the week of service and believe I have grown a lot in my knowledge of the Catholic Social Teachings!
Dear Gentle Readers,
First…bear with me. I realize this is long, but it’s my moment! We’re Rochester. A place that, to be honest, I was a little apprehensive about coming to. In the past, the Rochester Headlights groups always come back seeming so together and whoo, the sisters are so awesome and crazy, and just sounded all so intense, and just made me a little nervous…for whatever reason. ALSO…I have a brother in middle school who is completely weird and nuts… So I had no idea what to expect. I might have been a little scared even!
And of course, now that I’m here, I’m having a wonderful time, learning lots, loving my service site, and even having a blast with the sisters…who of course say that they’re not the crazy ones…those ones moved out awhile back…wink wink. =) Anyways, this week, I’m at Nativity Prep: a middle school, grades 5-8, with only 44 students!
So yes…to be honest, the middle school age kinda scares me a little bit. It’s a weird growing-up age and just overall kinda awkward. Not to mention the fact that the kids that go to this school are all at or below the poverty line and are have sometimes very unstable home lives. They’re definitely little hard to relate to sometimes. Within the first couple days, Janessa and I had already fallen in love with fifth grade…most of them are just so cute and little…and maybe just a little less jaded. But we have also been informed that we are “inspirations”.
The kids’ school day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Following that, they go straight into a required after-school homework time! And THEN, they go into “Enrichment”, a time for extracurricular sports, art, music, magic tricks, cooking, and any other fun, learning activities that the staff comes up with. No child actually goes home until around 5:30 p.m.! Monday evening, we were helping with Enrichment for the sixth grade girls, which consisted of painting small flower pots for a donor gala later this spring. Two of them informed Janessa and I that we were their “inspirations”. Who actually knows what that meant, but to me, it meant that I got to touch their lives in a special way, even if it was just for a few minutes.
Before I sign off, I’d like to say a word about these “crazy” sisters. =) They are all absolutely incredible. I’m learning so much from them, from recycling anything and everything to meals at exactly 6 p.m. From their mad skills at the game Signs to their daily witness as women of God in everything that they do. Last night, our evening prayer was a bit of a lesson on Catholic social teaching, and I couldn’t believe how much we covered and how much I took away!
So tomorrow I will go to my last day of scary middle school and have to say goodbye to all of my little reading buddies, lunch buddies, language arts buddies, and tutoring buddies, but I’ll be walking away knowing how much I’ve learned from THEM and how I only hope that they learned maybe something from me.
I hope all is well on the homefronts of all of our readers and fellow bloggers and Headlighters in Cincinnati and Kansas City.
Love you all!
So, wow. Our first days in Rochester have been amazing. The stories I have heard from everyone here are amazing. They have been filled with plenty of stress, being tired, and tested by more than one way, but everyone, in the end seemed to be very happy.
My first day was not very hard. My Monday was full of laughter and joy. And how could it not when you are in charge of 3 year old pre-school children, and Dance Dance Revolution.
I have been posted at Nazareth Elementary. Most often I have been working with the “Pre-3” class that they have there (three year old preschoolers) and it has been nothing less than amazing. My first experience was reading with the children, which was a blast. It is nice to have an attentive audience to provide gasps and laughs throughout the story. Perhaps my favorite experience this entire week has been P.E. with these children. By this point we have developed a relationship. By relationship, I mean that every time I walk by the children excitedly scream “MR. BIEDERMANN!” , but of course in their high pitched word slurring ways of three year olds. Also, their P.E. class consisted of a rockwall that the school has downstairs by their gym, and Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).
One memory I am confident that will be with me until the end of my days, is a group of 12 three year olds, standing behind the three participants of the game, dancing and singing along with the music. It was possibly the most heart-warming experience I have had.
Although not everything was a DDR experience so far, it has been an amazing experience thus far over all. I look forward to coming home and sharing stories of the week with all. Have a great spring break. I know I am.
Its Monday night here in Rochester and the day is just winding down, we just finished our evening reflection and prayer and are getting ready to settle into an evening of games with these “crazy sisters” as they have been affectionately labelled.
I am serving this week at Hope Hall, a school where everybody has an auditory processing delay and more often than not it is coupled with some other health issue or learning obstacle. In addition to that, 87% of the students at this school live at or below the poverty line. I have been very blessed in being able to serve at Hope Hall for the last 2 years on this headlights trip as well. This being my third year at Hope Hall I had some sort of an idea of what to expect, but of course you can never know everything. This year I am working in the middle school’s social studies classroom (Hope Hall is grades 3-12) so I had 2 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes. I had some experiences today that really impacted me in a way that I have never seen at Hope Hall. I worked one on one with a boy named Dustin that had just transferred to Hope Hall last week. He is a 7th grader, but at the public schools in Rochester he was locked in a room and served as an aid to severely handicapped kid, he has never really received an education of his own, so his reading level is that of maybe a 3rd or 4th grader. I worked with him on a worksheet to get him caught up with his class and on his homework. It was easy to see that he was discouraged by all that he didn’t know but I could also see that for the first time in a long time he had hope that he might be able to succeed. It was a huge blessing to be able to see that moment in his life. I definitely felt that God used him to show me just how blessed I was in the privileges i had growing up and still have today.
The other moment today that truly touched me was when a girl I had worked with last year asked for my help on her homework because she remembered me, and as she told everybody she encountered when I was around today “she took a picture with me last year.” I cherish the pictures I take with my classes every year but I had no idea that they cherished those pictures, pictures that they never saw after I left the school last year, I had no idea the students remembered those pictures, or even the fact that I had been there before. I don’t know if she will remember me 5 or 10 years from now, but I know I will never forget her excitement or the joy I saw in her that had come from an interaction with me. I saw God in her face today, she found joy in the simple things, and she will never know how much her memory of a simple item such as a picture meant to me.
Hope Hall is a place that has changed my life, it has given me hope, it has made me consider my circumstances, it has encouraged me to open my eyes to the lives of the people around me, it has shown me love, it has shown me joy. I will miss Hope Hall after I graduate this spring more than almost anything else I got to experience during my 4 years at Carroll.
Just while writing this, I was able to have a conversation with 3 girls on our trip that I would never have had if I hadn’t had these specific experiences at Hope Hall. Hope Hall has been a blessing in my life, and I hope that someday you all have a chance to visit a place as wonderful as there, and to know people as compassionate, loving, joyful, courageous, giving, and determined as the people there.
Thank you all for your prayers and support!
Love and Peace in Christ-
ps playing signs with the sisters is incredible!