For five years, the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro has been participating in Catholic HEART Workcamp to love, serve and connect with the less fortunate and those in need. This year, 10 students, three alumni and two staff members served the communities in the area of Hartford, Conn.
Olivia Elmstrom of Dracut joined nine classmates — Abby Golden, Catie Johnson, Isabelle Hallisey, Angela Tarantino, Ashley Tovar, Kendall Froment, Kate McNamee, Nora Leach and Evangeline Rockwell — at CHWC to offer their service.
Alumnae who were also present include Class of 2018 graduates Sydney Nichols, Isabella Hann and Cara Fischetti.
The group stayed at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Conn., from July 7-12, along with students from the parishes of Our Lady of Mercy and St. Johns. The NDA students joined 230 other high-school students from the other New England states as well as New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The volunteers were grouped with students from other schools, parishes and states, helping to create many new friendships.
Each morning, participants attended Mass to prepare for the work day ahead, and every night, dinner was followed by an evening program that included worship, games, live music and dancing.
Work assignments included house and deck painting and yard cleanup for the elderly, pantry organizing at a homeless shelter, working in a soup kitchen, cleaning up a formerly condemned house so a man in hospice could return home, as well as weeding and mulching along the Connecticut River for Riverfront Recapture.
Academy students were humbled and overjoyed with their experience at CHWC.
“Some of our students working in client homes were able to get to know the people we were serving on a personal level, which made the experience even more impactful for them,” said Pam Bernazani, interim principal for the Upper School at NDA. “In fact, that impact was demonstrated by the fact that three of our alumni chose to return to Catholic Heart Work Camp through their parish groups because of their experience as NDA students.”
Since 1993, CHWC has been providing parish youth groups, teens and adult leaders with service opportunities. Now, with more than 14,000 participants, CHWC is the largest Catholic service experience of its kind in the country. Each summer, CHWC works to restore homes and hearts, feed the hungry, and care for or simply lift the spirits of children, the elderly and disabled.