Thursday, June 24, 2010

BASE Camp 2010 Day Five - Humble Work

"Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do humble work." ~ Mother Teresa

Thankfully due to the great volume of work performed over the previous three days we had a light workload on Thursday. Thankfully, because as temperatures climbed near 100 it was clear working in that heat at the height of the afternoon would have been miserable. So, following lunch we headed back to our home base.

The morning was not without it's share of work, however. We had a crew finish the clearing and trimming of the lot on Pratt Street, even moving more debris out of the way creating more cleared green space. Part of the crew roamed the neighborhood collecting copious amounts of trash, and then we finished our work on that part of Pratt Street by weeding the property where two of the nuns connected to Hezekiah Movement live. While working the lot we had a visit from Taz, who spoke with our young people during last year's BASE Camp about the difference Hezekiah had made in his life. He was taking a group of people to Bible study, but took the time to stop and say "hello" and tell us again how much everyone in Southwest appreciates our work.

Last night one of our BASE Camp alumni - Kate Cohagan - brought us a large donation of bread items from Atwater's in Catonsville. We delivered the bread to the community service center, where Dienna was thrilled to receive ANY donation, and ecstatic when she found it was about four dozen loaves. Dienna - who has known Sr. Kitty for 27 years since she was a 13 year old religious education student - explained that with the impending brutally hot weather many of the community's poor elderly would not venture out to try and get food. She was hopeful that she'd be able to distribute the bread along with peanut butter and canned fruit to tide those folks over.

Our crew finished the morning at St. Peter's, helping with a variety of tasks including staking up some "discovered" tomato plants and planting new flowers in some of the flower boxes. During lunch we were joined by Michael, another Hezekiah Movement success story. Michael talked of his own struggles with addiction and how Hezekiah had changed his life. He told the young people they should always remember that "God shows us a lot of love, even when we aren't deserving." Michael said he was hopeful he'd be able to give back to the community by woking at St. Peter's Center.

After lunch we headed back to St. Will's, where a large group of our young people assisted Fr. Marty in moving his office to his new parish. He greatly appreciated the help of the youth and their willingness to jump right into the task regardless of the weather. And, he treated them to a tour of his new parish.

Tomorrow will be our last day in Southwest with BASE Camp, and while there's a great sense of accomplishment there is also a sense of sadness. Our group grows very close during these experiences and creates bonds and memories that will last a lifetime. More and more we have been affirmed in our "humble work" by the community. As I returned the keys to the garage where we have been storing our tools this week to Brother Joe he said how sorry he would be to see us move on, but also how transforming our presence this week has been. I can guarantee that this has been a transforming experience not just for the Southwest community, but for our BASE Camp 2010 participants as well.