Though the COVID-19 pandemic forced the School to shorten this year's Senior Outreach from eight days to two days, the students made a huge impact at volunteer sites throughout the city.
"In prior years, the majority of seniors volunteered at under-served schools, schools for children with special needs and learning differences, and homeless shelters," explains Senior Outreach Director Mike Donnelly. "With pandemic safety concerns being of paramount importance, we concentrated on finding opportunities that allowed us to work outside or follow physical distancing requirements.
"We were fortunate to partner with Debbie Allensworth, Senior Associate and Community Pastor at Pearland's St. Andrews Episcopal Church, who is the Executive Director of the Mosiac in Action Storm Recovery Center and also the Coalition Co-Coordinator of Brazoria Responds. Debbie was able to help us secure some non-traditional Senior Outreach sites," says Donnelly. He thanks more than 12 faculty and staff members who volunteered to supervise seniors on the seven projects.
Below is a summary of Senior Outreach accomplishments:
- A crew of 39 students led by Coaches Marc Klinkerman and Dick Gaston helped refugees from Cambodia and Laos in Rosharon by building greenhouses and moving supplies, plants, and mulch.
- A crew of 14 led by Julius Michael painted the exterior of a house in Pasadena.
- Ten girls, led by David Trauba and Paul Revaz, worked to repair Thong House in Rosharon, including taping, floating, and sanding drywall along with clearing the yard's brush. (See video below.)
- A group of 20 seniors, led by Dan Binder, harvested 160 pounds of cabbage and 30 pounds of cauliflower on Tuesday at Target Hunger. Target Hunger operates multiple Food Pantries that serve individuals and families who need food assistance including providing nutritious fresh produce.
- A crew of 16, led by Reverend Art Callaham, documented headstones at the historic Oak Park Cemetery, where many prominent Houstonians are buried, including Mickey Leland.
- A team of 27 students, led by Emily White, assembled sandwiches at Kid's Meals to provide free and healthy meals for hungry children. They made more than 6,000 sandwiches!
- Two crews (56 students) volunteered at the Houston Food Bank. These crews were led by Matt Fox, Jason Grove, Chief Achilefu, Lauren West, and Shaun Flood.
Ceramics Instructor David Trauba, one of the faculty supervisors at the Thong house, praises his Senior Outreach experience: "The sheetrock needed to be taped and floated, so we instructed the girls on the process and they did a wonderful job completing most of the work. We also spent time clearing the yard of debris and overgrowth. We ended up filling up two dumpster bags with material and really improved the look of the property," he says.
"The girls in our group were completely engaged during our time out there," adds Trauba. "They never hesitated about any job we asked them to do. I am very proud of all the work they accomplished."
Madeleine Berckley, one of the seniors who renovated the Thong house, created a 3-minute video to commemorate the project and teamwork. See below.