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Catholic students work to build future for others



For The Dialog


CAMBRIDGE, Md. — Alexis Jeynes straddled a strip of felt roofing as she cut it to the right size for the top of a shed.

She smiled as she recalled her experiences with Pitcher and Basin, a week-long work camp sponsored by the Office for Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “The past two days I’ve been tearing down a roof; that was fun. Now I’m helping build one.”

Jeynes, a rising senior at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, may have been better prepared for the week than some of her 19 fellow campers: She helps build sets for the Delaware Children’s Theatre in Wilmington. “The tools are the same, but it’s quite a bit different,” she said of building sets and of constructing – or salvaging – homes.

Midori Lofton of Ursuline Academy (right) holds a 2x4 in place as Alex Patellis of Salesianum hammers a nail for a shed at the Easton worksite of Habitat Choptank. Gary Morton/The Dialog
Midori Lofton of Ursuline Academy (right) holds a 2×4 in place as Alex Patellis of Salesianum hammers a nail for a shed at the Easton worksite of Habitat Choptank. Gary Morton/The Dialog

Pitcher and Basin provides high school students an opportunity to help improve life for others through a servant-leader model. The program’s name comes from the Last Supper, where Jesus washed the feet of the Disciples before the meal. Three sessions of Pitcher and Basin were conducted this summer, one in Salisbury and the remaining two in Cambridge and Easton, where CYM has worked with Habitat for Humanity Choptank since the work camp began nine years ago.

Habitat Choptank, named for the River that divides Dorchester (Cambridge) and Talbot (Easton) counties, has learned to prepare for Pitcher and Basin to ensure there is plenty of work, said Rhodana Fields, construction supervisor. “These guys are always a hard-working group,” she said.

This year Habitat Choptank included two salvage sites, in which materials from houses scheduled for demolition were retrieved and taken to Habitat Resale, and had students pre-fabricate walls for several storage sheds for future Habitat homes in addition to working on current worksites. Money raised through Habitat Resale help fund future work sites.

About 70 students took part in this year’s sessions.

ShaQuinda “Pumpkin” Demby of Cambridge worked alongside the students on what will soon be her home on Oakley Street, then returned at lunchtime the next day with watermelon, tangerines, apples and bananas.

“It’s joyful to see that they’re helping the community as well as me,” said Demby, 28, a school bus driver with a 19-month-old daughter, Serenity. They now live in HUD housing.

“I’m so excited,” she said of her opportunity at home ownership. “It’s a life-changing event.”

Habitat for Humanity provides new or refurbished homes to those who might otherwise not qualify for a mortgage, making the dream of home ownership possible for those with few financial resources.

The fruit Demby brought “is not much but it shows I appreciate what they [the students] did,” building her shed and staining her deck. She can’t always provide treats as thanks to Habitat volunteers.

“I could afford it today,” she said.

Gabby Kowalski, who made her third Pitcher and Basin camp, enjoyed working the Demby and meeting other families who have benefitted from Habitat in the past.

“We are helping them build their future,” said Kowalski, who graduated from Padua Academy in Wilmington and will attend the University of Delaware this fall.  “It is pretty awesome.”



More photos:

http://thedialog.org/?page_id=331 • Pitcher and Basin 2015