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Service at the Center of Houston Spring Break Trip

April 12, 2018

For one week in March, a group of St. John Fisher College students traded laptops for sledge hammers, as they helped one resident of Houston, Texas rebuild his home in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Fisher students traveled to Houston, Texas to help repair a home damaged during Hurricane Harvey.

Organized through the Office of Campus Ministry, the group travelled to Texas over spring break to work with Michael Lynch, a teacher at St. Thomas High School, a fellow Basilian educational institution. Lynch and his family lost their home due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. More than 20 inches of water left irreplaceable damage to their house and belongings, and insurance will only cover about half of the repairs required.

In September, the College raised $10,000 in funds and collected items to be donated to the Lynch family to help in their recovery. And, over spring break, a small team of students and employees took that effort one step further by rolling up their sleeves to help repair the house.

“The first two days were demo days,” said Juliette Miller, a second-year student in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy. “We took down walls and cabinets in the kitchen with crowbars, then the next day, put up dry wall and worked with sheet rock.”

Students helped repair a house damaged during Hurricane Harvey.

Other teams worked on the exterior of the house, raking and bagging up lawn waste and beautifying the landscaping.

For Mary Grace Shine, who has participated in service trips prior to travelling to Houston, it was shocking to see the condition of the house.

“It was a lot worse than I thought it was going to be, even six months later,” she said, noting that until the Fisher team arrived, Lynch had been working on the house mostly by himself.

Emily Dwyer, a freshman nursing major, said the hard work was worth it in the end.

“I think the last day we were helping, Mr. Lynch was choking up and expressing how much work we did in such little time. It was very touching to see how much we impacted the family,” she said.

While in Houston, the Fisher team attended a rodeo, toured the University of St. Thomas and Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and met with members of the Basilian community, among other activities. They also volunteered with Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen through Magnificat Houses Ministry.

“The trip inspired me to get more involved in my own community locally,” said Dwyer. “There are things going on around us where we can help.”