The first truly beautiful Saturday morning of 2022 dawned with sunshine and warming temperatures descending upon Ohio City. Executive Director of the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership
John Gill ’97 guided a team of 20 student leaders who arrived to campus around 8:15 a.m. to prepare for the day.
The students gathered rakes, shovels, gloves, trash and yard waste bags, and other supplies, and moved them to outside the Sullivan Atrium. They helped the Loyola Society Mother’s Club
prep tables filled with breakfast items. They welcomed more than 150 volunteers and directed them to eight sites around the neighborhood, where they would be spending the rest of the morning on various clean-up projects.
But these students had been at work preparing, really, since early March.
Spring Into Action
took place at Saint Ignatius on Saturday, April 23, but it was the culmination of weeks of planning, organizing, and coordinating with community partners by a core team of more than 20 young men.
“These students take on one of the biggest leadership opportunities offered through the Christian Action Team
,” says Gill. “They have to develop a project plan, coordinate with community partners, develop a supplies list, create a jobs list, and then lead their volunteers through the work at their site.”
A staple of the spring calendar for decades, Spring Into Action also provides students with an opportunity to live out the Gospel and perform the Work of Mercy that is Caring for Creation. In light of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si
, this day complements work done throughout the year by the St. Francis of Assisi Green Team and Clean Team, as well as similar trash pick-up efforts by students at The Welsh Academy.
Carnegie West Library, just a block away from the academy, once again served as a service site. The library has been a terrific Spring Into Action partner for students for several years, with abundant park space that needs annual planting and maintenance, as well as some large trash cans that get re-painted every spring.
St. Malachi Parish, right by the corner of West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue, is another long-term partner. The team of students and parishioners spread tons of mulch, planted flowers, and beautified the grounds around the church, which has people on the property every day for their popular breakfast and lunch program.
Students also led clean-ups of two area cemeteries: Monroe Cemetery, which is just two blocks south of campus, and Riverside Cemetery, which is near Metro Hospital and also where the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearers occasionally perform their duties. Monroe Cemetery is one of the largest green spaces in Ohio City and is overseen by a foundation, with which the student core team members coordinated to plan their beautification project.
Other clean-up sites included:
- Franklin Hill: A highly trafficked roadway leading from West 25th Street along Irishtown Bend down to the Flats, where they cleaned and cleared the sidewalk.
- Abbey Road Bridge: A popular camp site for people who live on the streets and a regular stop for the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless, where the group picked up lots of trash that has accumulated.
- A Movers Project: Working with a homeless outreach professional who has an apartment for people transitioning off the streets, the group delivered furniture and other supplies to outfit those living spaces.
Lastly, a team of students led a graffiti abatement project. These young men had discovered businesses and buildings that had been tagged with graffiti and worked with the proprietors to coordinate removal or cover-up. Students and their volunteer teams worked at Cent’s Pizza on Lorain Avenue and a building owned by the Cleveland Metroparks down in the Flats.
“In addition to the leadership skills that students develop through Spring Into Action, we really hope they understand what it means to be a good neighbor,” Gill says. “As a school, we have a big footprint and create lots of activity in Ohio City. This day of service is just one way we try to have students build relationships outside of our buildings, put faith into action, learn what it means to care for creation, and give back.”