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SALT Discontinues Saturday Morning Our Lady of the Angels Trips, New Service Opportunities to Come

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Earlier this year, SALT discontinued the Saturday morning trips to the Our Lady of the Angels Mission. This left many students wondering why the trips had been canceled and what service opportunities would take its place, as this was a popular service event.

In an interview with Officer Ron Smith he discussed the reasons for which the trips to Humboldt Park had been canceled. Officer Smith has gone to OLA with SALT about five or six times and described the area to be “crime ridden and dangerous.” On two occasions during which he accompanied SALT to the mission there were incidents which lead him to believe that this was not a safe environment for the students. The first involved a shooting and active investigation going on one street away and while the volunteers had been informed that they were in no danger, Officer Smith was still concerned that there was not enough adult supervision.

The second incident occurred when students were standing on the side of the mission distributing clothes and gunshots were heard down the alley. This, of course, startled all of the student volunteers, and it was after this incident that Officer Smith decided to suggest that Benet no longer send students to Humboldt Park to volunteer at the mission.
Throughout the interview Officer Smith emphasized that his main goal while attending the mission was to keep the students safe and due to both of the incidents mentioned he believed that there was too much of a risk of a student getting hurt. He said he believes that there are opportunities in safer areas surrounding Benet for the students to do similar work and just as much good.

When asked about any particular memories he had from his visits to OLA he replied that there were not so much any particular memories as there was a feeling. A feeling that the students really got something out of seeing a different side of life. He said that there was no division, just an overwhelming feeling of people wanting to help each other. Mrs. Jackie Bedore described a similar feeling when asked the same question.

Mrs. Bedore said that it was amazing to be able to see joy that the service opportunity brought not only to the guests but also for the Benet students. She loved the opportunities that the students had to speak Spanish with the guests while helping them to find clothing in their size.

As far as specific memories she described the people who ran the mission. Our Lady of the Angels is run by the Franciscans and their spirit is what Mrs. Bedore says she loved most about the service trips. She described each of the people who she worked with:
“Fr. Bob’s calm, efficient manner and the way he enjoys visiting with guests, Sr. Stephanie’s small frame and large personality- especially with a megaphone in hand. Sr. Jaime’s welcoming smile as we check in and Sr. Alicia’s inner beauty and reliance on God to provide. They are awesome people.”

Caroline Kubacki (‘18), who organized the school wide clothing drive earlier this year during which over 100 bags of clothing were donated, says that OLA was a unique experience because it involved interaction with the neighbors. She commented, “I got to help little kids find clothes for school and they were so excited to have a new t-shirt.” She would also like to thank everyone who made donations which allowed many children and teens to go home with new clothes.

While SALT will no longer be traveling to Humboldt Park they will be maintaining a relationship with OLA. Most recently they volunteered at their YMCA Christmas party, and on Friday, February 3, the Catholic Schools Week Day of Service, they made hats and scarves to donate to the mission. SALT is also working to recruit runners for the Chicago Marathon to help raise money for them.

Mrs. Bedore also mentioned that since so many students would volunteer at OLA, there would almost be too many hands to help, and therefore the students’ talents could be better put to use at other events that need assistance. This year, SALT has expanded its involvement at Hesed House and added regular excursions to Habitat for Humanity.

While the OLA service opportunity will be missed, there are many other service opportunities that SALT provides to Benet students including ones that are also organized by the Franciscans. One thing that is for sure is that SALT will continue to make a positive difference in our community.

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SALT Discontinues Saturday Morning Our Lady of the Angels Trips, New Service Opportunities to Come