Service is an integral part of Father Vincent Capodanno High School in Vass, North Carolina. This year, as part of the school’s spring intercession, students were given the opportunity to serve through Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) YouthFest, an alternative spring break service trip for high school students.
During their week of service with CAP, the group of students and staff worked to build a new front porch and a back porch with an accessibility ramp for a woman in Floyd County. Watching the group make quick work of the project during the week, the homeowner was thrilled knowing she would be able to sit on her new front porch and have more freedom and accessibility in and out of her home because of the ramp.
Students at Father Vincent Capodanno High School are typically given the opportunity to do community service for a few hours every Wednesday, such as picking up trash along the highway, serving at a food bank, or helping in a classroom for students with special needs. The full week of service through YouthFest built a strong bond between the students and showed them the tangible impact their service can make. This is the first year that the school has participated in YouthFest.
“It’s good they understand service, but now they actually get to do it for an extended period of time,” said Michaela Loomis, a teacher from the school who joined the students at YouthFest. “It’s really amazing to see this project the kids are doing has a positive impact on someone’s life. I think it will give them a good feeling, but it will also be a positive impact for the rest of the school year, maybe even the rest of their lives.”
For many of them, YouthFest was their first experience working with wood and tools. CAP’s Home Repair Program staff and volunteers take time during YouthFest to teach groups and volunteers how to safely operate tools in order to complete home repair projects for individuals and families in need.
“I want to do this again,” said Lexi Waldo, a freshman. “At first, I was a little worried about not knowing what to do, but there are a lot of people to help you with the work, and it feels really good knowing you are helping people. I know little things make a difference, and I know our work is going to go a long way.”
The experience helped the students develop a new perspective about the challenges people in Appalachia can face and how they can make a real difference in the region.
“It means a lot to me to be able to do this,” said Julia Attar, also a freshman. “When we first came, we saw the front steps of the home were made of cinderblocks. It means a lot to know I can help her have safe access in and out of her home, and I’m taking away a lot of life skills I can use later.”
Jozeph Capps, another student who worked on the project, added, “No matter what age you are, you can still help do big things no matter what.”
With the help of groups and volunteers like the students and staff from Father Vincent Capodanno High School, CAP can make more homes safe, warm, dry, and accessible for more children, their families, and seniors in Appalachia.