Bishop Donahue HS has successfully completed its first collaborative effort with the Clifford J. Lewis, SJ Appalachian Institute. Mirroring the growing trend in foreign & domestic collegiate Spring Break Service-Immersion Trips, BDHS is partnering with the Appalachian Institute housed at WJU, to offer underclassmen the opportunity to live, learn, serve, and work with the needy in our home state of WV.
On Easter Monday, April 6, in Mr. Gillis’ mini-van ,now affectionately known as the ‘WING DING’, 5 intrepid Freshman (Sophia Gretchen, Ulayna Hartley, Isabel Reilly, Logan Ruckh, and Tyler Swann) and their chauffeur, Mrs. Granato, took off for what would prove to be an amazing adventure. Mr. Tom Breiding was the AI representative who served as a leader, tour guide, entertainer, chef, and friend.
Much of the trip was educational, learning about the southern coal fields of WV at the WV Cultural Museum, the development of labor unions in our state, the horrors of mountain top removal on Kayford Mountain, the life in WV coal camps at the Whipple Company Store, the plight of the poor through PATCH-21 in Ripley, WV and Union Mission in Charleston, WV. The service aspect of the trip was intermingled with the learning. They worked in a Day Care at Patch-21, worked in the Thrift Store and bagged rice at Union Mission, and assisted Joy at the Whipple Company Store Museum.
The group laughed, listened, ate, prayed, worked, danced, played some spirited Apples to Apples & Twister, sang by a campfire, visited the New River Gorge, learned a lot, got muddy, and grew closer by serving together. The students are committed to keeping in touch with those they met on the trip. This was a wonderful inaugural Service-Immersion Trip with the Appalachian Institute.