Twenty rising Juniors and Seniors attended Archbishop Carroll’s third service trip to Harlan, Kentucky last week.  Also in attendance were: Mrs. Julia Young, Fr. Mike Speziale, Ms. Nora McGeever, and Mr. Rich Knowlton.   

The service trip to Kentucky offers members of our community the opportunity to bond with classmates, to travel, and to give back. Both students and leaders help with home repair projects and work alongside community members to make a positive impact on a population in need.  

Mrs. Julia Young, who helped organize the Kentucky service trip three years ago at Archbishop Carroll, continues to be amazed by student transformation during the trip.  “There are students who have never used a power tool before this trip but become confident in their abilities by the end. There are students who experience the beauty of nature in the stars and the mountains around us, perhaps appreciating it for the first time. There are numerous moments where the Holy Spirit is present through the genuine community that forms during our time in Harlan.”

Harlan 3 was split between a few different sites and projects.  One group worked on a house of a woman named Jean. Students demolished her addition, which was damaged by the winter snow, and no longer safe.   The other group broke apart the foundation of a local church that had ceased operation. They worked to repurpose materials during demolition. Even though the materials will be reused in another religious facility, it was a hard task for Fr. Spez!  Additionally, students cleaned up shingles and completed other jobs to better the community.  

James Buentello ’20 commented that the most memorable part of the trip was meeting the people of Harlan. “They all had lives filled with hardship, yet they remained positive and faithful despite having so little. It was an amazing feeling to know how happy they were once we had helped them.”

Their days in Kentucky opened with prayer and reflection and closed with Mass. The reflections provided students with the opportunity to share their experiences throughout the day and to hear stories from the other group.  For fun, students hiked Bad Branch falls, participated in a scavenger hunt, and enjoyed nightly campfires.  

Buentello added that he “grew most in my appreciation for the things we often take for granted, such as my house, my clothing, my food, my school, etc. They are all important blessings in my life and seeing people work so hard to maintain their lives has shown me that I should be happier with the life that I live and remember to help others who are less fortunate.”

President Francis E. Fox ’77 stated, “I am so proud of the 20 rising juniors and seniors for volunteering in Harlan, Kentucky; as well as our Carroll teacher mentors and role models who gave up a week of their summer to build Christian servant leaders. This trip is a time of transformation and hard work deep in the mountains of Appalachia.  It allows our kids to gain a new perspective on life. They get to see God in the genuine love and concern of the good people of Harlan; see how strong of a community they are and how simple and Christ-like they act and live. Some call a trip such as this ‘community service’, we call it ‘Carroll Cares!’”