September 22, 2018
School & Youth
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  • A group of 15 high school teens and three adults from St. Jane traveled by mini bus to Charleston in July as part of Catholic Heart Workcamp, through which they fixed up houses for people in need.
    Photo Provided
    A group of 15 high school teens and three adults from St. Jane traveled by mini bus to Charleston in July as part of Catholic Heart Workcamp, through which they fixed up houses for people in need.
  • A group of 15 high school teens and three adults from St. Jane traveled by mini bus to Charleston in July as part of Catholic Heart Workcamp, through which they fixed up houses for people in need.
    Photo Provided
    A group of 15 high school teens and three adults from St. Jane traveled by mini bus to Charleston in July as part of Catholic Heart Workcamp, through which they fixed up houses for people in need.
  • A group of 15 high school teens and three adults from St. Jane traveled by mini bus to Charleston in July as part of Catholic Heart Workcamp, through which they fixed up houses for people in need.
    Photo Provided
    A group of 15 high school teens and three adults from St. Jane traveled by mini bus to Charleston in July as part of Catholic Heart Workcamp, through which they fixed up houses for people in need.

Oh, The Humanity: St. Jane Youth Repair Houses And Lift Spirits In Charleston

Zach Sparks
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August 21, 2018

Charleston, South Carolina, is known for its antebellum houses, horse-drawn carriages and indelible charm, but as St. Jane Frances volunteers learned during a summer trip, it’s also an area marred by a 16.3 percent poverty rate, which is about two percentage points higher than the national average.

Claire Horvath, director of youth ministry at St. Jane Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church, traveled by mini bus with a group of 15 high school kids and three adults to Charleston in July as part of Catholic HEART Workcamp. It was Horvath’s seventh or eighth mission trip with St. Jane but first in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat for Humanity was very organized, very efficient,” Horvath said. “They really used these kids.”

Teens worked in subgroups of about 13 people, paired with not only members of their own church but from others as well. Workdays went from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and in the evening, volunteers engaged in team-building exercises, played games and listened to music.

Horvath said most years are spent painting houses for the elderly, but not this year.

“We were siding the house,” Horvath said. “We were up on ladders. Teaching kids how to hammer a nail was our job.”

They also worked with a food bank. “This food bank supplied food for places up and down the coast for South Carolina and for North Carolina,” Horvath said. “[Volunteers] spent one day alone on potatoes.”

Eva Leimbach, a Pasadena resident and rising junior at Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville, was in a different work group.

“We had to scrape paint from the rec center and repaint it,” Leimbach said. “A group before us started scraping the paint. The bricks were cracking.”

Leimbach enjoyed helping kids indirectly, even though she didn’t see them, but every aspect of the trip was rewarding.

“It was an interesting experience to get out of my comfort zone,” Leimbach said. “I met people from other churches all around the country,” she said, naming Texas, Wisconsin and Tennessee as some of the places where fellow youth volunteers came from.

Leimbach has stayed in touch with her fellow campers through text messages and by writing letters.

Horvath was pleased with the sacrifice that Leimbach and the youth volunteers made.

“The kids have to earn a certain number of service hours and there are a lot of ways to earn those,” she said. “This is a profound way to do it. To commit to a week away is a tough way to get those 24 hours. There is a real sense of accomplishment from these kids.”

But even though most youth volunteers were eager to get their service hours, Horvath said that was not their primary motivation for going to Charleston.

“It’s not just for school,” Horvath said. “We teach them that, ‘I need to be the hands and feet of Christ.’”


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