I Miss Sundays
Richard McLaughlin is currently a teacher at the Solebury School in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Through out his teaching career he has lead hundreds of students in various community service projects from park beautifications to Katrina relieve efforts in Mississippi.
Last year he led 26 high school students and 4 adults to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi from March 4 to 11. Together they accomplished over $20,000 of labor. The students paid for their own way, on their spring break from school.
He was asked why someone should spend all that money to get down there, he responded, “It can’t be explained in words. When you do a community service like that you touch people’s lives. You can not come away from that with out changing.”
One of the things McLaughlin’s group did when they were there was to attend a dinner hosted by a group of Amish people. The Amish community had set up a semi-permanent settlement in Waveland, Mississippi to help rebuild. Every Thursday they have a free dinner and sharing time for anyone that wants to attend. When Richard McLaughlin went he sat with a family of four. It consisted of a father and three young girls. He spoke to the eldest girl and asked her what she missed the most prior to the storm.
She said, “I miss Sundays.”
He asked her what she meant by that.
“Before Katrina we use to meet at our house after church. Our house had a giant porch that went all the way around the outside. All of my cousins and some of my friends from school would come. We would have picnics, play games and ride on the tire swing.
My aunts and uncles; Grand Ma-Ma and Pop-Pop; and sometimes even our minister would come by. Daddy would cook all afternoon. Mom would help my Dad cook and she loved to play cards on the porch. Some men played horse shoes in the backyard. Each family would bring chairs, plates, silverware, cups and a blanket.
Most Sundays in the fall my daddy set up our TV on the back porch. Everyone would cheer as they watched the football game.
It’s been 3 years. It’s different now. Most of my family moved away. I only get to see them on holidays like Christmas or the 4th of July. We don’t even have a house any more. Daddy says we can’t afford to rebuild one. I really hate living in our trailer. Daddy built a porch on the front, but it’s not the same. I miss my family. I miss my house. I miss Sundays.”
It takes more than money to heal a community. The real work takes the human touch. A life touches another, and both are enriched by the experience.
This year he is leading 22 high school student and 4 adults to Texas to help rebuild their community.