Advocacy at Brother Rice, Chicago

Nicholas Chimera, '19


Two years ago, Father Mark Walter went around to sophomore theology classes to gauge interest in an Advocacy Club. The following year, nearly thirty juniors had joined in a mission to spread the word about injustices in the world. Senior Patrick Foertch, who has been a member of the club since the beginning, said, "The Advocacy Club gave us such a new and unique opportunity to help others beyond our own community." As a founding member myself, I had no idea how blessed I would be to not only learn about social issues I didn't even know were going on, but be able to help.

When Nico Perez '18 and Matt McCormick ‘18 began printing the parts for prosthetic hands in the robotics club and assembling the parts, the Advocacy Club found its first cause. Eventually named the Helping Hands Project, the students of Brother Rice were asked to donate $25 for the parts, and then come in to work with Nico and Matt to build hands for children in third-world countries. The issue at the root of the Helping Hands Project was not necessarily those with birth defects, but the children in third-world countries who live in areas overwhelmed with landmines. Landmines are extremely cheap for armies to produce; however, they've been proven to be less than useful in armed conflicts because they harm many more civilians than combatants. As a result, children who stumble upon landmines in their homes often lose their limbs, if not their lives. As a result of the Helping Hands Project, about 25 kids across the world received a prosthetic hand.

Because of Nico Perez, Matt McCormick, Liam Coughlin and the Advocacy Club, a handful of lives have been changed forever.

Brother Rice Chicago alumnus and Chairman Emeritus of Love Without Boundaries, Paul Duggan poses with a recipient of one of Brother Rice’s “Helping Hands” in Cambodia.


Brother Rice Chicago alumnus and Chairman Emeritus of Love Without Boundaries, Paul Duggan poses with a recipient of one of Brother Rice’s “Helping Hands” in Cambodia.

For the 2018-2019 school year, the Advocacy Club dedicated itself to a new cause—Love Without Boundaries. For this project, Advocacy Club members each speak to a homeroom at Brother Rice every month and ask the students to donate $2. Advocacy Club member Tim Novick said, "With such a small donation from each person, each homeroom is able to pay tuition for a child in Cambodia. This money provides these children with a safe transportation in an area where human trafficking is a very real threat, and a meal during the day that could very likely be the child's only one."

The Advocacy Club is the best thing to happen to Brother Rice in recent years. It is truly a special thing to be able to help people in need in such a personal and impactful way. Advocacy Club member Marc Ridgell said, "I think the Advocacy Club is important because it gives students the opportunity to fundraise and advocate for issues that are not only prevalent domestically, but globally."

The beauty of Love Without Boundaries, just like the Helping Hands Project, is that the children will never know the people who helped them. That sort of selfless service defines exactly what it means to "Act Manfully in Christ." To help people, without any recognition, is the sort of love that makes people special, and should hopefully inspire us all to make little sacrifices when we can.

To learn more about Brother Rice's partnership with Love Without Boundaries, click here.

Other News from ERCBNA