Volunteers spend week repairing homes in Dallas County

Published 11:37 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Eighteen volunteers from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., spent a week working on homes in Selma and Dallas County. The students were guests of Queen of Peace Parish and the Edmundite Missions.

“They built a fence for a lady with a mentally-challenged child so that the child wouldn’t wander out into the street and get run over,” said Paul Robitaille, who coordinates home repairs for Queen of Peace. “And they built some stairs and railings for a cancer victim who lives in a trailer. The Knights of Columbus and Queen of Peace Parish paid for the materials, but the kids did the work.”

Eric Bridge coordinates Aquinas College Service Learning. “We try to connect students with opportunities where they can use their gifts and abilities to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Bridge. “Through this process they can learn about diverse communities and social issues, as well as about themselves. Selma is a good place for them to do this.”

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The student volunteers included Bailey Agattas of Shelby Township, Mich.; Heather Ballard of Livonia, Mich.: David Clark of Southgate, Mich.; Beth Combs of Coon Rapids, Mich.; Olivia Dorgan of Plainwell, Mich.; Lauren Dwyer of Rockford, Mich.; Molly Feldman of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Gretchen Holtgrefe of Cincinanati, Ohio; Michael Licari of Lake Odessa, Mich.; Amy Markoviz of Spring Lake, Mich.; Douglas Naragon of Zeeland, Mich.: Robyn Rander of Conklin, Mich.; Audrey Rillema of Zeeland, Mich.; Alicia Savage of Holland, Mich.; Michele Sharkey of Dewitt, Mich.; April Sprangler of Zeeland, Mich.; and Katelynn Werra of Grand Rapids, Mich.

“There are more needs than we Edmundites could ever meet by ourselves,” said the Rev. Carroll Plourde, S.S.E., pastor of Queen of Peace. “So we appreciate it when fine young people like these kids give up their spring breaks to help the less fortunate. Of course, I suspect that they find our weather a pleasant contrast to the winter weather they’ve been having in Michigan.”

The “Excellent Eighteen” also managed to enjoy part of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee and tour Selma’s historic sties, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Live Oak Cemetery, Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church and the Old Depot Museum.

Aquinas College was founded by the Dominican Sisters in 1886, but in 1941 became the first Catholic college in the United States to go co-ed. It has an enrollment of 2,300 students. Its students have been coming down to Selma to spend their spring break on the Missions for