In honor of Father’s Day: hear from an alumni father and a soon to be participant daughter
I participated in an AJSS summer back in 1980. It’s hard to believe that 32 years ago I visited Jeanerette Louisiana, to work, during my summer break. I remember being the only one of my friends going to “work” for the summer, and paying (well, my parents did) to do it. But I was always doing something interesting and different during my summers so I was looking forward to my trip. While memories fade over time, there are some great memories that have stayed with me from that summer. I remember being on rooftops in my Timberlands, replacing entire roofs, fixing others, painting houses both inside and out, and the time we added onto this tiny house so the 8 or 10 people that lived there wouldn’t have to share 2 bedrooms anymore. The weekend trip to New Orleans was, of course, great. That summer still resonates with me and has led me to do other social justice projects. I’ve even been back to New Orleans, post-Katrina.
I don’t expect my daughter to have the same experience I had; I hope it will be better. I know the program has evolved over time, for the better, and I’m excited for her to experience the satisfaction she gets when she helps others. We’ve done projects together, but this time she’ll be on her own, with a group of strangers that in 6 weeks will become really, really good friends. While her friends at home will be doing whatever they do over the summer, Madison will be experiencing life lessons that some never get to have in a lifetime. Lessons and experiences that I know will stay with and guide her, like they have me. And, she’ll have fun!!
When my dad was a junior in high school, he participated in AJSS. He told me what a great experience it was and after going to New Orleans with him and a group of people from my temple and doing similar kinds of work, I really wanted to do this too. I love the rewarding feeling I get after finishing a project; after stepping back, and really looking at how I’m changing someone’s life. When I went to New Orleans a few years ago, a while after Katrina, there was still so much damage in the area where we went to help. In such a hopeless environment, the people who still lived there- you could see the hope in their eyes when we were helping them. And I really hope that this summer I can experience the same rewarding feeling I got after helping them. I hope that I make new friends and that I get the most out of this summer – learning to be more independent and responsible. I look forward to giving of myself and maybe finding a part of myself that I didn’t know before.
Steven & Madison