The senior class of an Oklahoma City private Christian school recently conducted a weeklong series of community services at an inner city center for homeless women.
And the McGuinness High School Class of 2013 isn't finished yet.
The students, about 170 of them, formed teams to do landscaping and other beatification efforts at The Sanctuary women's development center, 2133 SW 11. Monday, the teens will host a carnival at the south Oklahoma City center.
The Sanctuary is a day center for homeless women, operated by Catholic Charities.
Amy Phillips, campus minister at McGuinness, said a group of seniors visited The Sanctuary when they took her summer class on social justice. She said they decided to focus on the center for their senior class project and started making concrete plans shortly after school started in August.
“They were so excited about what is happening at the sanctuary that they wanted to come back,” she said.
Phillips said in addition to the carnival and beautification efforts, the students helped create an area at the center for the children of visiting women.
Lisa Chamberlain, the center's assistant director, said the students helped clean the area and supply it with nursery school items for children. She said the students' project ended up being much bigger than she expected.
“I think it's awesome that the young people are getting involved in the community,” she said. “It's been such a blessing to us and it's been a blessing to our ladies. It's far exceeded our expectations.”
The two project coordinators Shelby McMillin and Katie Kearns, both 17, said the project ran smoothly because all of the seniors were motivated to aid the women's center.
“I'm really proud of the way McGuinness has come together for this,” Kearns said. “One of the things we say about McGuinness is that we're a family. This is an opportunity to show that to the community at large.”
McMillin said the project gave the students a chance to help members of the community that needed support.
“It's been for rewarding getting to help someone who wouldn't get this help if we weren't here, as far as us fixing it up and making it look nice for the women who come here.”
Several seniors helping with beautification efforts outside the center said they enjoyed the opportunity to serve.
“We're trying to make the center look more approachable so that people will take the time to stop and see what's inside,” Casey Burnstein, 17, said as he raked leaves with fellow seniors Mike Cardenas, 18, and Obi Nwokolo, 17.
Several young people planted flowers and helped prune trees.
“It's a nice way to give back,” Suzanne Cisneros, 18, said.
“You don't really know how to give back to the community sometimes, but the small things help.”
Meanwhile, Chamberlain said she was ultimately impressed with the young people's compassion for the women who are the center's focus.
“I couldn't ask for a better group of kids,” Chamberlain said. “They're going to be our leaders someday.”