Elizabeth Students Make A Difference For Homeless Children

ELIZABETH—Student Campus Ministers at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth are making a difference in the lives of city youngsters.

The young women at the all-female Catholic college prep high school have committed to a ministry that is focused on serving homeless children in Elizabeth. Together with and through the Elizabeth Coalition for the Homeless, the students are providing educational support in the form of tutoring, as well as mentoring, babysitting, and providing food supplies.

The student campus ministers met recently at the academy with representatives of the coalition to prepare for their mission to assist and tutor children who are displaced from their homes. The students were briefed on statistics and given words of advice and encouragement.

“The facts reveal that children comprise nearly one-half of all the homeless in the United States,” said  Linda Michalski, Benedictine Academy campus minister. “Along with the coalition, we believe we are responsible to build a community of support, compassion and respect for our brothers and sisters in need,” she added.

“At Benedictine Academy, we believe we can and are making a difference,” Sister Donna Jo Repetti, OSF, fellow campus minister added. The students will lend educational support through “Beatrice’s Place,” an arm of the coalition that provides “each child with a one-to-one high school student tutor, who will assist the child with his/her homework, strengthening their academic skills, and mentoring the child through troubled times.”

Students at Benedictine Academy also gathered together recently to prepare food for those in need in the city. Over 80 students made almost 500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, complete with drinks, snacks, and prayers for the Elizabeth Coalition for the Homeless.

“It was a fun-spirited event as students decorated the lunch bags with words of comfort and hope,” Michalski commented.

“Our school community heard the cry of the poor and decided to take action,” Repetti said, noting that “as the students laughed and worked as one body, other students loaded a car with over 100 jars of peanut butter and jelly in an effort to fill the coalition’s empty pantry shelves.”

Recently, the student campus ministers were touched by a discussion on what it means “to be family, to be part of God’s family, and to be part of the Benedictine Family,” Michalski related.

“Hospitality, prayer, and service were three of the cornerstones of our faith that they discussed. Then they put God’s Word into action by gathering games and DVDs to bring and share with the children that they were babysitting at the Elizabeth Coalition for the Homeless,” Michalski reported.

“I believe their hearts were filled with peace and joy as they spread God’s message of love,” Repetti said.

“Doing small things with great love” (Mother Theresa) is one of the many ways we are touching lives in the local community,” Repetti added. “At Benedictine Academy, we truly believe we can be the change we wish to see,” she pointed out.

Elizabeth Students Make A Difference For Homeless Children A

Benedictine Academy students prepared food for those in need in the city of Elizabeth recently.

Elizabeth Students Make A Difference For Homeless Children B

Students at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth put their concerns into action by bringing games to the homeless children they babysit as part of a project with the Elizabeth Coalition for the Homeless. Pictured (left to right) are Priscille Dossekou and Barbara Diogio, both of Newark; Anika Dodson of Elizabeth; Delecia McPherson of Irvington; Samantha Jules of Newark; and Stephanie Gaspar of Elizabeth

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