Tennessee is not for the weak


The best group all smiles after a long day at the worksite (Photo Credit: Finley Hawkins)

Sydney Rosario, Staff Writer

During the week of June 12, 23 students, including myself, flew to Memphis, Tennessee, with open hearts to take on Catholic Heart Work Camp, CHWC. For the next five days, each Royal was assigned to a group where they would babysit children, share company with senior citizens, and rebuild a house. Even with the intense heat and humidity not in their favor, each tried their best to maintain a positive attitude and let God work through us.

After a grueling layover in Detroit and a redeye flight, it’s safe to say all of us were extremely exhausted.

To our surprise, the students and five supervisors discovered that we were to spend our nights sleeping on high school floors. Although it was not as luxurious, that did not matter be cause of our exhaustive and intensive work led to very restful nights.

Mrs. Kearns ’78, Ms. Marquez, seven other Royals, and myself spent the next few days building a deck from scratch, sanding down old paint, putting up the foundations of new walls, and cleaning doors. After chipping away at paint for several hours.

Finley Hawkins ’24 recalls, “I met a lot of new people that are now some of my best friends, so even though what we did was hard, we were able to make a difference and meet amazing people.” As a Rosary community, each girl became very close with each other, supporting each other to get the job done for the benefit of the less fortunate.

Megan Mendonca ’23 and me showing off fresh tomatoes. (Photo Credit: Rosary Academy)

Senior Jada Alexis also shared a similar experience to Finley’s. As she spent time with the elderly at a retirement home, she repainted a fence and learned homemade recipes from the residents. She says, “I loved going on the Tennessee trip because I met a lot of new people that I didn’t normally talk to on campus. I learned how important it is to serve the dear neighbor and help those around you. I felt super close to God during this trip, and I wish it could’ve lasted longer!”

Another group spent their time working with young children.  Madeline Espinoza ‘23 explains, “On the service trip, I helped with Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM) summer camp. I worked with the kids grade 1st to 4th with science, math, art, and had some fun at P.E. with them. I loved the experience because the kids were so fun and I got to make a ton of new connections in a few days. I would totally do it again!”

Madeleine Espinoza ’23 takes a selfie the MAM squad. (Photo Credit: Madeleine Espinoza)

Not only did we help the Memphis community, but we also took this opportunity to grow in their faith. Every day started on the right foot with early morning Masses and gourmet cafeteria food. After spending the day at various service projects, the afternoon was faith-filled with retreats and leader talks. At lunch, we were to reflect on topics relating to our faith in helping others. Bella Barretto ’23 explains her experience, “Tennessee was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. It made me realize how much I take for granted and how blessed I am to live the life I have. Giving back to my community and putting a smile on people’s faces gave me an unexplainable feeling of happiness and gratitude.”

Going to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s former home, was a great reward after a long week of helping the dear neighbor. Junior Claire Heidelman remarks, “Seeing Elvis’ home was so exciting! Especially with the new Elvis Movie coming out, this was the highlight of my week.”

Seniors Megan Mendonca and Jada Alexis striking a pose in front of Elvis’ iconic pink car. (Photo Credit: Jada Alexis)

I encourage everyone to not miss out on this life-changing experience and to sign up for the next service trip.

Signing off, Future Carpenter Commandos!

You’ll understand if you go to CHWC next summer 😉