Students Serve and Make New Friends in Chiloquin, Oregon | Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School


Students Serve and Make New Friends in Chiloquin, Oregon

This July, 21 SJND students (accompanied by Ms. Berrios, Mr. Chaffey and Ms. Stein) joined 45 other students in Oregon to participate in the Sierra Service Project. During the full week, the students served the community of Chiloquin, Oregon (population 734, per capita income $9604) while exploring their relationship with God. Students were split into six different work sites around Chiloquin to work on home projects including siding, painting, and building decks, awnings, wheelchair ramps and roofs.

The SJND students immediately blended with the three other youth groups; Ms. Berrios said that watching their friendships blossom and deepen throughout the week was a true gift. None of the students had access to technology throughout the week, and surprisingly no one seemed to miss it at all! “There was a freedom we were given by being disconnected from the internet,” said Ms. Berrios. “We were free to shake off the masks we tend to wear in our day to day lives and just be ourselves.”

Examples of specific work included students Payton Dean ’19, Rosie Saxton ’19 and Leo Miranda ’20 helping a woman named Sharon build an awning on her deck. Sharon has been living in Chiloquin for 12 years with a chronic medical condition that leaves her in and out of the hospital. She felt very blessed to have students there to help her and said "it is very inspiring to see these young adults step up and work together to help this community."


As part of another project, one group worked on fixing sealing, trim, and paint for 84-year-old Monte, who has lived alone in Chiloquin for the past 13 years. Without the valuable work they did, his home would be exposed to the harsh winter weather again, leading to continued difficulty in staying warm and decay of the structural integrity of the house. Monte was a funny guy, a little rough around the edges but with a heart full of love. Throughout the week, he spent more and more time with the students outside, walking with them and telling stories as they worked.

“The students fell apart in hilarity at times because sometimes he said the darnedest things,” said Ms. Berrios. “On our final day, as we were getting closer to finishing, the feelings were bittersweet. Monte was sad; he said he didn't know what he would do with himself without us around all the time. At the same time, he beamed with pride over his home. It looked brand new, and he never expected it to look so good. We had lots of hugs and he gave us his address so that we can send him some more pictures from our week. We plan to send him birthday cards in September too!”

Service learning projects and trips are designed to develop students' sense of social and personal responsibility, increase their understanding of the conditions that warrant service, and challenge them to recognize their potential as agents of social change. By the students immersing themselves into a full week of service, they were truly able to walk away understanding that they can make a positive impact on the world.

View the Facebook photo album of the trip here.