In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus talked about being positive agents of change for our world referencing the salt and light. During the week of June 21, a group of CJ students used that teaching as a foundation for their mission trip to Euclid, Ohio, near Cleveland.
Teacher Angela Ruffolo led the group as they volunteered at the Rose-Mary Center, a residential center for children and teenagers with severe disabilities. The Rosemary Center has been in place for more than 90 years. Currently, about 35 young people reside in the facility. Due to new state laws, the Rose-Mary Center residents are required to live in smaller group homes in the next year. To help prepare for the move, the CJ students, along with volunteers from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, helped organize and clear out more than 90 years worth of items.
"Most of our week was spent lifting and moving lots of furniture, cleaning all sorts of areas, shredding hundreds of boxes of old files, collecting lots of items for a future garage sale, and separating items into things to keep, things to throw away, and things for scrap metal collection," said Ruffolo.
The group also had fun with the Rose-Mary Center residents and planned a Hawaiian Luau party for them. Ruffolo said the students made decorations for the event, planned activities and games, and even created a dance to teach the residents.
"This day was definitely one of the highlights of the week because we truly had time to interact with the residents," Ruffolo shared about the experience. "We went outside of our comfort zones and were touched by these wonderful kids!"
Ruffolo said another highlight of the trip was watching the end of a torch run sponsored by the Euclid Police Department.
"The run ended at the Rose-Mary Center, and we, along with some of the residents, were the welcoming committee for the runners," Ruffolo said. The run raised money
and awareness for the Special Olympics.
During the mission trip, the group stayed at Cleveland Central Catholic High School, which brought a sense of familiarity to the students.
"The lobby area of Cleveland Central Catholic was dedicated to St. Julie Billiart and the Sisters of Notre Dame, so we felt a connection with the high school we stayed in," said Ruffolo.
She added that the week overall was a success, with the group doing a lot of praying, singing, laughing and community building during their trip.