We started the New Year seeing one of the dump communities we have served longest cope with a devastating fire that raged for five hours. Workers’ meager living conditions were worsened when their few worldly possessions were burned to a crisp and their entire environment was flooded with toxic smoke. This did not stop them from continuing to pick through trash, searching for items to sell or re-use until they were forced to evacuate. They are that desperate to feed their families and earn a few more coins that could help change their children’s fate.
Volunteers from John Carroll University witnessed the event. The sight and smells of it will haunt them forever. As one student observed, “they live with literally nothing but their faith in God…” I ask for your prayers that these volunteers, like many before them, have had their hearts moved to continue serving the poor in some capacity.
Surveys conducted among volunteers at St. Charles Preparatory document that a majority of students’ career interests were affected by their service experience with International Samaritan. We have countless volunteers who have taken on special projects to raise awareness or continue to support the mission financially after their return home.
Others choose a traditional volunteering role, like Rita, our long-time office worker, who uses her professional training to help run our operations efficiently. She has remained steadfast and joyful in her role, growing with our organization over the years.
Now, with some delay, I ask: how did your New Year start out?
Did you have great fanfare and enjoy the company of friends and family? Did you make a list of self-improvement resolutions – you know, the ones that generally fall through about this time of year? I ask you, friends, to realize that it is not too late to make this year the one about serving others rather than self. The people in greatest need that can be greatly helped by people like us. Perhaps you have not seen the dump life with your own eyes, but I can assure you it is as bad – and worse – than we can share with you.
Stay with us through 2014, and what you give will come back to you ten-fold.
In the Lord,
Father Don Vettese, S.J.