In the middle of their summer vacation, four All Hallows Seniors volunteered to spend a week to help younger students with special needs make the best of their time in summer school. This service week is an initiative of Mission Frére, East Harlem, with the All Hallows students contributing their time at Cooke Grammar School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
According to its Mission, the Cooke Center - "envisions a world in which all people with special needs are included as valued members of their communities, leading independent and purposeful lives"
These were the students with whom the All Hallows students spent most of the week, engaging them academically in classrooms, as well as physically with indoor and outdoor activities under the title "Kids in the Game" These activities were designed to encourage participation by all involved (including the AH students).
Once their day at the school was completed, the students visited the Brothers' community in East Harlem for prayer, a reflection on the day's activities, and dinner. Brother John Casey led the students through the reflection each night while Brother Ben McDonough provided dinner. One of the reflections also included a presentation by Brother Kevin Cawley on his ministry representing the Congregation of Christian Brothers at the United Nations.
On Tuesday evening of the week, Jesuit Father Willie Reynolds, a graduate of the Brother’s school in Thurles, Ireland, was available to celebrate Mass in the Brothers’ Chapel. He then joined the group for dinner and animated conversation.
At the end of the week, as a final farewell, the All Hallows students were serenaded by Brother Ben McDonough with a few appropriate tunes.
The Brothers community in East Harlem looks forward to hosting a number of school groups next summer as a follow-up to this year's inaugural week.