Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

At Cataldo School, service is more than just a lesson; it’s an activity

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Feb. 5, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

One day a month the seventh and eighth graders at Cataldo Catholic School have a day off from their studies. They do not get to stay home and hang with their friends, though; they spend that day doing community service at various locations in Spokane.

Kyle Schmidlkofer helps serve lunch at the House of Charity. Christina Griffin and Tali Rinaldi visit the retired Sisters of the Holy Names at their convent in west Spokane. Garrett Campbell goes over to Holy Family Adult Day Health, where he visits with the people who come to spend the day.

All four eighth graders, along with the rest of their classmates and the seventh grade class, participate in a program that helps them learn the value of reaching out to others.

Cathy Nemert started the program at Cataldo five years ago. This year Anna Kestell is in charge. As Kestell explained it, the reasoning behing the program is simple: “We are all part of a community that has needs. We looked at this as a way to get our students into the communities to help them become aware of the agencies out there.”

The activity also helps the students develop compassion, she said. The hope is that the students will continue the pattern of volunteering as they grow older.

Students are given an orientation prior to going out into the community. They are supervised by adults and transported by parents during their volunteer time. The seventh graders work in facilities for children; the older students work with adults. The ministries range from playing with children to visiting the elderly.

Kyle finds his service at the House of Charity “interesting,” learning new people skills as he serves lunch to people with a completely different lifestyles.

At Holy Family Adult Day Center, Garrett also finds his visits with clients interesting. It’s “cool to hear their life experiences,” he said. He said he was learning patience and empathy and feels good when he leaves there.

Christina and Tali enjoy their visits with the Holy Names Sisters, too, although sometimes “it takes a long time to understand them,” Tali said. They were also learning patience.The volunteer students sometimes play cards with the Sisters and sing together. One day, Christina said, one of the Sisters played the piano and some of the other Sisters danced. “It’s really fun,” said Tali.

As a seventh grader, Thomas Krause goes over to Trinity School, where he helps in the Educare program. “I play with the preschoolers,” he said. Most of the children in Educare are two years old. “If I see someone in the corner with no one to play with, I’ll go over,” he said.

K.C. Gosline volunteers at St. Anne Children and Family Home. She loves “to be around the little children,” she said. “It’s fun.”

Rachel Ayersman goes over to the Liberty Park Child Development Center. She, too, works with children, playing with them and giving them “the help they need.”

Blake Briggs works at an agency that helps children, but his volunteer chores are different. He helps sort, pack and store toiletries at the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. “We wrap up diapers into little bags and mark them with the size,” he said. The diapers then are are stored in the attic. The nursery is a place for parents to bring their children when there is a crisis in the family that can sometimes result in harm to the children.

Next year, Cataldo’s program will gain an educational component as the students’ service gets incorporated into research, writing and other school assignments.

Community service was the focus in another way at Cataldo during Catholic Schools Week this year. Each grade level chose some kind of project to do during the week. For instance, the kindergarten students collected items for the Martin Luther King Center; the first graders made valentines for people who live at Delaney House in downtown Spokane.

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