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Br. Andrew Roland
Service on Spring Break
When you think of Spring Break, images of beaches, nightclubs, and bad decisions are usually the first things to come to mind. Not very often does one associate Spring Break with the backwoods of Kentucky. But that's exactly where I spent my Spring Break, working with the Christian Appalachian Project in Jackson County, Kentucky.
The Christian Appalachian Project is a non-profit based out of Paintsville, Kentucky who provide services to low-income families within Appalachia. I first heard of CAP by ways of the Penn State Newman Catholic Student Association, who often would send a group of about ten students each year during Spring Break to aid in CAP's building program. As I had just finished an intensive internship, there was much umming and ahing about whether or not I would go on the trip. However, encouraged by my girlfriend, I decided to go.
After a 9-hour car ride on Sunday morning from York, Pennsylvania, my fellow Penn Staters arrived at Camp Andrew Jackson (Camp AJ for short). There we met students from Valparaiso University in Indiana and Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville, along with a group from Olive Grove Reform Church in Ohio and other independent volunteers. We were broken up into different teams, each assigned a different project.
My team, the Orange team, was assigned to help an elderly gentleman named Charles, who recently lost a leg due to diabetes. The task at hand was to build a deck and ramp which would be suitable for his wheelchair, as well as redoing his bathroom so we could install a walk-in tub.
The first day of work, I was assigned to help with a side project of applying an aluminum sealer on the roof, which was leaking. The process was grueling, with the sealer spreading more like globs of glue than paint and the stains on my arms which would last me the entire week, but I was able to finish it by the end of the day.
On the second day, our team made it a goal to finish the deck and ramp by the end of the day. We were told that this part of the project would likely take all week and that the team the next week would handle the inside, but we saw this as a challenge. By the end of the day, the deck and ramp were all ready to go.
On the third and fourth days, we worked on the bathroom. For Wednesday, we worked on removing everything from the bathroom; the tub, the shower, the toilet, the floorboards, the whole nine yards. While the others in my group helped with other things, I assisted Carl, a member of the group who worked as a building contractor, with installing the plumbing. As an accounting major, I had very little experience with plumbing, so it was a wonderful opportunity to learn the basics and Carl was more than happy to teach me. The final day was dedicated to reinstalling the bathroom flooring and preparing the walk-in tub for installation.
Friday morning we returned home, and I could not help but think of what a blessing the trip had been. Not only did I get to do good, but I had fun doing it too. I made many friends with both those on my team and the other volunteers and learned the basics of building and plumbing. While I could have gone to the beach or abroad or a thousand different places for Spring Break, I am grateful to have spent this year's break with CAP and plan on doing it again next year.
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