International Samaritan honored three of its volunteers at an award dinner held Wednesday, Nov. 3. Matt Ippel, John Brahier and Bart Thompson received awards for their years of exemplary volunteer service.
Matt Ippel, of Dearborn, was named Samaritan of the Year for 2010. Ippel (pictured) distinguished himself on all three of the service learning immersion trips he took with I.S., traveling to Honduras in 2008 and 2009 and Haiti in 2010. In Honduras, Ippel helped build two homes for families whose houses burned to the ground in house fires and volunteered with a medical brigade while helping to construct a new medical center in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. In Haiti, he worked alongside Haitian refugees building a new school.
“Matt is extremely hard-working and caring,” said Andrew Pawuk, International Samaritan Program Director. In addition to serving on missions, his skills working for I.S. as a summer intern in 2009 and 2010 were invaluable. “Matt did an excellent job in marketing and promoting our mission, particularly at the Ann Arbor Art Fair,” Pawuk said.
“He is an extraordinary example of what it means to be an International Samaritan,” said Father Don Vettese, founder of International Samaritan. “We are very pleased to honor him with this award.”
Ippel is a 2009 graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. He is currently attending Georgetown University where he is studying Foreign Service.
John Brahier and Bart Thompson were the recipients of this year’s Samaritan Spirit Awards. Brahier, of Bowling Green, Ohio, volunteered at the Santa Clara Nursery and Francisco Coll School in the Guatemala City garbage dump community with St. John’s Jesuit High School during their annual service trip in 2009. When he returned to the United States, he designed an interactive display to recreate the living conditions in garbage dump communities for St. Rose Elementary School, his former grade school. He also spoke to the students about his experience as a volunteer. Through this educational campaign, he raised approximately $3,000 for International Samaritan’s Paso a Paso Scholarship Program. Brahier is a 2010 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School. He currently attends the University of Notre Dame.
Bart Thompson, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, organized a bicycling fundraising campaign, collecting thousands of dollars to help build 18 new schools in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Thompson and several other volunteers cycled from Ann Arbor to Harbor Springs, Michigan, a total of 335 miles. In 2007, Bart volunteered with International Samaritan in Guatemala City. He is a graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School and is studying pre-med at Stanford University.
“John and Bart both inspire others by their example,” said Vettese. “That is a rare quality in a young man.”
In 2011, service learning trips are planned for several communities in Central America, as well as Haiti and Egypt. Groups are needed to help build houses and classrooms, teach first-aid and English, volunteer with children in the nurseries and provide medical care during medical missions. For more information, please contact Andrew Pawuk at 734-222-0701.