BonaResponds is at it again here in SC helping out St. Anthony of Padua's Parish and School. We have been here before Winter Break 2010 and Spring Break 2011.
Work is in full swing down here already. We arrived after a 15 hour drive Saturday (arriving Sunday morning around 11am). St. Anthony's held a ground breaking ceremony on Sunday afternoon for their brand new and much deserved elementary school. Pretty much as soon as we got out of the van we got to work setting up 400 hundred chairs for the ceremony.
The new school will include a full size gym. Currently the children have no gym and are restricted to playing in the field adjacent to the school. On rainy days the kids have to remain in doors. But with the new school there will be guaranteed physical activity daily.
The ceremony included speeches by local dignitaries, clergy, and Father Pat Tuttle. Fr. Pat is a Franciscan friar who spent a couple years at St. Bonaventure about 10 years ago. He is very full of life and the children and community adore him. He specifically thanked BonaResponds in his speech for clearing over 100 trees on the site of the school last Spring.
After the ground breaking, there was a gathering at the school cafeteria for the community. It was astounding how many people came up and told us their connection to Bonaventure or Olean. After the get-together was ended we had a pow-wow with Fr. Pat to outline jobs for the week.
Monday morning we got to work bright and early at the school. We cleared branches hanging over the children's garden. The chainsaw was roaring and the saws were buzzing! After about three hours we had a 6 foot pile made. This garden received an award for best elementary school grown garden from Clemeson University last year. Surely with the branches cleared the garden will blossom even more this year!
Then we lendws a helping hand with the convent behind the church. Three sisters and one in-training live at this house. In the beginnings of the parish, this house also served as the first school. Five gentlemen from the church have been working on the house for the past month. Repairs include anywhere from drywall to electrical to window work. Each of our volunteers have done their fair share of all of those mentioned activities the past two days!
We meld well with the older gentlemen working on the house. They have a lot to teach us and enjoy our company. Stu, the "foreman", proclaimed our group is a "god-send". He told us we blow any other college group that has come to help them out of the water (as our reputation goes!)
Today (Tuesday) we had a little picnic lunch behind the friary. Phil grilled up some delicious chicken. The menu also included mac salad, potato salad, and of course CHEETOS! Everyone enjoyed the meal very much.
Tonight we visited Greenville's finest BBQ joint: Henry's Smokehouse. A must visit if you are ever in Greenville!
Afterwards we met up with Fr. Pat, Fr. Dave, and one of the school's interns. We talked about the mission of St. Anthony's and then took a ride in Fr. Pat's "hoopty bus". Full size bus with a rockin' sound system! Fr. Pat took us out for frozen yogurt at Yogurt Mountian. It was awesome!
Well it is getting late and we have a 7:30 start at the site. More updates tomorrow!
For trip updates throughout the day check out Phil's twitter: @phillybp