Boston College students lend a hand to Holy Family

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 6, 2009

NATCHEZ — While their classmates are stretched out on a beach someplace warm and sunny, a group of Boston College students believe there’s just no place like Natchez for spring break.

“This is much more substantial,” said Sam Hay, taking a break from a construction project at Holy Family Catholic School. “And we’ll remember it a lot longer.”

Hay is just one of 21 students from Boston College that decided a spring break doing service work at Holy Family, was a spring break well spent.

Email newsletter signup

Hay and the other students will be at the school doing maintenance work, playing with the kids and even getting an opportunity to teach some classes.

For Ryan McCarthy, a senior at the college who has been to the school before, there was no question where she’d be spending her break.

“The people here are always so warm and welcoming,” she said. “I’m glad I got to come back. It’s a great chance for us to get to give something to the community.”

And McCarthy wasn’t the only returning volunteer.

Groups of students from Boston College have been heading to Holy Family for 12 years.

Boston College Associate Dean John Cawthrone said it all began several years ago when he met one of the school’s former principals at Boston College, where she was completing course work.

The two struck up a conversation and workers from the school have been heading to Natchez ever since.

The students also spent time volunteering at the Natchez Children’s Home.

“This is a whole new experience for a lot of our students,” Cawthorne said. “And it’s an extremely valuable learning opportunity for them.”

Sister Bernadette McNamara, director at Holy Family, said the work the students do for the school can’t be measured in dollars.

“They provide an extremely valuable service to this school,” she said. “And they’re not afraid to work.”

But the work the students do can’t meet all of the school’s needs.

For that the school relies heavily on fundraisers, McNamara said.

And the school’s next fundraiser is March 8.

McNamara said the evening will feature a performance by Celtic musician Danny O’Flaherty.

“It’s a great way to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day,” she said.

The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral High School cafeteria.