By Sister Gina Fleming O.P.

     During the week of January 3rd-7th young adults from the New York chapter of the Dominican Young Adults USA came together to participate in a service project in Freeport an area that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and still has damaged houses in need of repair.

       At the build site the young adults had the opportunity to engage in all types of work.  Our task was to rebuild the interior of a garage badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  Our initial task was to take off the old sheet rock that was on the walls and replace it with new pieces. With the help of an experienced carpenter who worked along side us, the new sheetrock (on all of the walls and the ceiling) was up in two days. There was a lot of measuring, cutting, hammering, and nail driving that had to be done in a very confined area, but we felt very good when the tasks were done. The young adults had a variety of odd jobs which included cleaning, mudding, taping and sanding the walls and ceiling. There was much to do, but we were determined to do what was necessary to speed up the resettling of this family that once lived comfortably in this home.

     We also had the opportunity of meeting the owner of the home we were working on.  With tears in her eyes she spoke of her gratitude to these young volunteers.  Before we left the site, we promised that we would pray for her and ask God to help make her dream of finally “coming home” a reality.

   To make the service project more meaningful and to have opportunity to reflect on our daily experiences, our Dominican House of Hospitality convent housed all of the volunteers for the entire week.  Throughout the week DYA members lived in communion with Dominican sisters, Dominican volunteers, and lay associates in the St. Hugh convent and shared conversations, meals, prayer, and reflections from the service opportunities.

      Each night after dinner the young people gathered to pray and speak about their day.  What or who touched them, and where might they have encountered God in their experience.  As you might guess, the prayer and reflection were powerful each night.

     This experience was a true expression of what we mean by “Dominican Family.”    Different parts of the family (vowed religious, associates, Dominican Volunteers and Dominican Young Adults) all worked together to make this week a positive experience for all.  No one of us did it all, but all of us did our part.

            Our week of volunteering was over and we prepared to leave the site.  It was a good feeling knowing that we left the house in much better shape than it was in when we arrived.  It was also a good feeling knowing that all of us (the entire group mentioned above) in our own small way assisted in “Continuing the Preaching ” in our own lives and the lives of those we met in Freeport.

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