Hurricane Irma has left a lasting impression on the South Florida community, but other than a few fallen trees and debris around its campus, Belen Jesuit fared well.
More than 300 members of the Belen community came together on Sept. 14 to clean up and put things back into place on campus.
“I was expecting 150 kids and we actually had over 300 people — students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni. It’s a great expression of the Belen Jesuit community coming together and showing up in order to help their school,” said school president Fr. Guillermo M. García-Tuñón, SJ, (Class of 1987).
“We have a group of volunteers taking stuff out of storage and putting desks, chairs, and benches back in place. Others are working in the fields picking up branches and raking leaves. The best thing about the Belen spirit is that our alumni, students, faculty, parents take ownership of their school, and this is just one opportunity to demonstrate that,” he added.
With the sun blazing, volunteers spread throughout the campus and took their marching orders from the hardworking members of the maintenance team. No one complained and everyone did his part.
“The student body is incredibly grateful to our maintenance department,” said Student Council president Felipe Pardo. “They have been working so hard not just today, but in the days leading up to the storm and immediately after. Also, to those that showed up today to lend a hand, thank you for pitching in and doing your part. It is a great sign of unity and brotherhood.”
Volunteers didn’t show up empty handed. Not only did they come ready to work with gloves, rakes, and brooms but they also came with supplies to donate. Hundreds of bottles of water, canned food, and other supplies were delivered to campus. From there, members of the Key Club sorted and delivered the supplies for distribution to evacuees from the Keys.
“Today is certainly living up to our theme, ‘Run to the Fire.’ We sent an email and asked for help, and the call was answered,” said school principal Jose E. Roca. “The strength of our community is in full force and that’s a reinforcement of who we are. Bad things happen; hurricanes happen, but despite that we can persevere. I hope that’s the takeaway lesson for these young men; that good things happen when we work together.”