Boston College students help out Holy Family

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 15, 2010

NATCHEZ — When students from Boston College arrived in Natchez last weekend to begin their week of work at Holy Family Catholic School, they were greeted with freezing weather and warm hearts.

The group of 18 college students arrived Sunday and immediately began working on projects around the school, including painting the exterior of buildings and working on the school’s stage.

“This is our 13th year coming down here,” senior human development major Bryan Ramos said. “The stage was our big project this year. We also waxed all the classrooms’ floors. One of the best things is when the kids come in and see (the changes).”

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Ramos, who has worked with staff and students at Holy Family three times, helped lead the team along with fellow students Kristen Barry and Meaghan Mulvagh.

For Barry, a junior elementary education major, the two trips she has made with BC to help at Holy Family have been times to make a difference and connect with young students.

Barry said after receiving candy to sell for one of the school’s fundraisers on Wednesday afternoon, students had raised more than $400 by selling outside of Walmart that night.

As of Thursday over $650 in candy bars had been sold for the school.

“Sister (Bernadette McNamara) has kept us busy,” Barry said.

Barry said aside from working on projects, there has also been time for the college students to connect with the younger children.

“We spent a lot of time with them on Monday,” Barry said.

Mulvagh, a senior early elementary childhood education major, said the educational trip is something BC students are as passionate about as Holy Family students are.

“We had a 40-person waiting list just for this trip, Mulvagh said. “The students know when we’re coming.”

Mulvagh said upon returning this year, she was greeted by a child she had bonded with the previous year.

“After class she ran up to me and said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you, Meaghan,’” Mulvagh said. “I was surprised she remembered me. She was 3 years old last year and she’s 4 now.”

Ramos said there is always something to do or learn when working with Holy Family.

“(The students) are brilliant,” Ramos said. “Every single one of (the volunteers) walk away saying these kids understand more than our kids in Boston. I like to think we learn just as much from (the teachers and the students) as they do from us.”

Holy Family Educational Director Ira Young said each year BC students come work with the children and on renovation projects, the effect of their presence is greatly felt.

“As a whole, I feel they have done a fantastic job with working with the students as well as bring changes to the school,” Young said. “Each time they come, the school gets a facelift.”

“The children are always overwhelmed and eager to see them.”

Today marks the last day of the team’s stay with the Holy Family community.

Another group of students is expected in the spring.