After a week of community service in Connecticut, Academy of the Holy Angels students Samantha DeMartino, Areanna Pumayugra, Amrita Raval, and Ashley Thompson all made the same recommendation for the future. The teen volunteers wanted to spend more time working with the women and children at Caroline House and visiting with their hostesses, the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Their enthusiastic reactions let chaperone Carol Fay, chair of the AHA Religious Studies Department, know the trip was a success.
Pumayugra, a resident of West New York, New Jersey, said she enjoyed working one-on-one with the immigrant women and children who are studying English at Caroline House in Bridgeport. In her post-trip reflection, she said she wanted to spend additional time with the women, and wanted to engage in more educational activities with the children.
Commenting on her group’s visit to Lourdes, a Wilton-based health care facility for the School Sisters, Pumayugra said, “It’s an environment filled with love, care, unity, and happiness. You see it on the women’s faces and in the way they cheer each other on.”
Thompson added that the visit to Lourdes was an uplifting experience. The Nutley teen particularly enjoyed witnessing the friendships among the School Sisters.
Raval agreed that stopping at Lourdes was worthwhile.
“It was one of the best parts, seeing all (the women) laughing and enjoying their time,” the Nanuet, New York resident said. Raval also said she enjoyed meeting the School Sisters and hearing the stories and struggles of the immigrant mothers and children.
One of the struggles many immigrants face is learning English. While the group from AHA was at Caroline House, DeMartino was able to help some women make noticeable progress.
“I loved seeing the women gain confidence to speak English in front of their class just from some help from me,” she said. The Nutley teen added that she was inspired by the way the School Sisters live and contribute to the greater community.