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Mr. Mathews teaches more than language skills

Mr. Alan Mathews ’88 is one of six finalists for the 2019 St. Mother Theodora Excellence in Education Award from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In his 14th year as Spanish teacher at Providence, he also is the World Languages Department chairperson and the sponsor of the Spanish Club. Mr. Mathews said he is honored to receive the nomination and become a finalist, and he sees the award as validation that his job is a ministry.

“I’m trying to give back,” he said. “It’s good to have someone recognize that we see our job as a vocation.”

Dr. Mindy (Lankert) Ernstberger ’74 said she is grateful for the many ways Mr. Mathews has shared his gifts and talents with Providence, in the classroom and with his many other contributions at school and in the community.

“He is a gifted teacher, one who is known for high academic standards and achievement as well as positive student relationships,” Dr. Ernstberger said. “He is truly dedicated to Catholic education, and we are so fortunate to have Alan working on behalf of Catholic education in the Archdiocese.”

Mr. Mathews said that looking back upon his work history, he can see that he has always been teaching in some capacity although he’s only worked as a teacher the last 13 1/2 years. During his 12 years in the restaurant business, for example, he spent a portion of that time as a manager and trained much of the dining room staff, teaching them how to provide good service and deal with customers.

But he’s also been a lifelong learner, which is how he ended up going from various jobs in sales to become a high school Spanish teacher. His first college degree was a bachelor’s in psychology with a minor in Spanish from Indiana University Southeast. Working in restaurants where a number of the employees were Hispanic gave him a further chance to practice speaking Spanish. He improved his language skills even more while working in Florida as an insurance salesman and meeting with customers, many of whom were Hispanic, in their homes.

In the early 2000s, he was back in Southern Indiana working as a car salesman and because of his fluency in Spanish was often asked to interpret interactions with Hispanic customers with limited or no English-speaking skills. One day a co-worker suggested he become a Spanish teacher because he was so skilled at speaking the language. That suggestion took root, and Mr. Mathews returned to college, this time to the University of Louisville, to earn his bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master of arts in teaching.

He was still working on his master’s when a position for a Spanish teacher here opened, something he sees as “divine intervention,” he said.

“What are the chances a position opened the year I was eligible,” Mr. Mathews said, adding that he completed that master’s degree in December 2006, a few months after he started teaching here.

Mr. Mathews is working on his second master’s degree, this one in Spanish, to maintain his eligibility to teach ACP Spanish. His coursework has greatly expanded his Spanish-speaking skills even more and given him more ideas for his classroom. It also will give him a chance to fulfill his dream of traveling to Spain thanks to a study abroad in Madrid this summer.

Going to Madrid will help him learn even more about Hispanic culture, something he always tries to work into his lesson plans. For example, he helps his students celebrate traditional Hispanic holidays, including Día de Muertos, a Spanish holiday centered around All Saints Day. Being able to incorporate different elements of cultural experiences, from holidays to clothing and rituals, feeds his interest in trivia and history – and keeps teaching Spanish interesting.

“It’s not just nouns and verbs,” he said. “You can talk about geography one day, and music and arts and crafts another day. It’s a whole world of culture.”

Mr. Mathews brings the opportunity to experience Hispanic culture outside the classroom. He is the faculty sponsor of the Spanish Club, one of the largest and most active extra-curricular organizations on campus. Over the years the Spanish Club has held various fundraisers – from bake sales to a 5K run – to raise money to donate to the Hispanic Connection of Southern Indiana, a non-profit organization specializing in family-based immigration with programs in family literacy and preventive health.

The club also focuses on recycling services on campus. Under Mr. Mathews direction, the club worked to bring a permanent recycling dumpster to campus to collect recycled materials and to install recycling canisters in the cafeteria. Initially, recycling services had been a duty of the Recycling Club, initially sponsored by former Spanish teacher Ms. Emily Brown. When she left Providence, Mr. Mathews incorporated recycling into the Spanish Club’s duties because it teaches students to be “responsible stewards of our natural resources,” he said, especially since “so many parts of Latin America are in constant threat of abuse of their natural resources.”

In his free time, Mr. Mathews enjoys outdoor sports, including running. He is training for his fourth Kentucky Derby Festival minimarathon, which he will run this spring. He also is an amateur woodworker and has made two crosses of slate that hang at school, including one in his classroom and a larger one in the Robinson Auditorium lobby. He also has donated several crosses and wooden benches as prizes for the silent auction at the annual PHS Gala. He has shared his interest in woodworking with his students by encouraging the Spanish Club to make and sell ornaments at Christmas as a fundraiser for the Hispanic Connection.

Mr. Mathews and his wife, Jennifer, were married last summer and live in New Albany.

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Peace Corps offers ’15 grad chance to serve, grow

Robbie Gaines ’15 earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Bellarmine University in just three years and was on track to begin the doctoral physical therapy program there. As much as he loved the physical therapy program, he felt a call to enter the Peace Corps, a longtime interest of his. He applied, was accepted, and in July began his 15-month assignment in Botswana, Africa, working in health clinics throughout the country to educate and treat AIDS/HIV patients, primarily with children.

Here is a Q&A about his experiences:

Question: Why did you choose to enter the Peace Corps?
A: I joined the Peace Corps to learn about the world, to learn about myself, and to grow each day with the people around me through the challenges and success of day-to-day life.

Q: What do you enjoy about your work?
A: I thoroughly enjoy working to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana and working with my clinic staff because we are able to truly see how we can have an enormous impact on the lives of everyone in the village. With the HIV/AIDS epidemic, roughly one in four people are HIV positive, which in turn, means that everyone in the village is impacted either directly or indirectly. Because of this, my co-workers, counterparts, and I get to address health issues in a broader, holistic approach to address all the challenges of HIV. These challenges include the stigma of HIV and HIV testing, the ability to discuss health challenges among peers, as well as prevention and maintaining adherence to ARVs (the combination of medication used to lower the viral load of HIV patients).

Q: What do you find challenging? Rewarding?
A: One particularly challenging aspect of my service as a clinic-health specialist in a rural village in Botswana is that every project, or every event, has to include and be approved by most all community leaders, which means that no event or project can be created in an instant. It takes time and takes countless meetings with my counterparts and me to enact a certain change. However, it is exactly this [process] that I am eternally grateful for because it reminds me to slow down and remember the infinite importance of human connection and relationships. In Botswana culture, business as well as life, is much more relaxed and is focused more on human relationships rather than utilizing every second in the day to be efficient in paperwork and other duties.

Q: Your degree was in exercise science, and your work in Botswana is in health and clinics. Are you considering work in the medical field?
A: I am in fact considering work in the medical field. I really enjoy learning more and more about public health and how to ensure that all populations are adequately and lovingly cared for and have the same opportunity to succeed in life. Health is, quite obviously, closely linked with human behaviors, and I would like to see myself continuing to learn about how I can implement culturally appropriate health and youth development programs that give all people the opportunity to realize their potential despite obstacles they face that are out of their control.

Q: How did your schooling prepare you for this work?
A: My previous education at both Providence and Bellarmine University have undoubtedly helped shaped me into the person I am today. Both Providence and Bellarmine taught me that not all education exists in the classroom. The opportunity to partake in community service has helped me understand that in order to understand ourselves as students, we must first begin with what it means to be human — humans with inquisitive minds who are open to change and [with] warm hearts that are ready to guide us to our next adventure. I believe Providence and Bellarmine, through the constant help and guidance of teachers and staff, have fostered a nurturing environment that helps me to seek the next opportunity to grow and learn what it means to me to be human in my own life.

Q: Are you able to travel in your free time?
A: I am able to travel in my free time and weekends, and with this, I am so happy to be in the beautiful country of Botswana. The population of Botswana is around 2 million people, which seems like a decent amount. However, no matter where I travel, I always find someone who knows my name and knows people who talk about me from my own village. I am honestly not sure which I love more – the land and wildlife of the country or the neverending hospitality of the Batswana (the people of Botswana) across the country!

Q: What do you most enjoy about the area?
My village is located in the Central District of Botswana, which is fairly flat and dry. However, every day, I go on a run through my village just before sunset. And each day I have countless children from the village join me and run with me. Seeing the smiles on their faces as we run together every day while enjoying a uniquely beautiful sunset is something that warms my heart each and every day.

There is nothing more satisfying in this world than feeling as if you are right where you are supposed to be in the world. For me, I feel this way when learning about the world from the world itself. Being a Peace Corps volunteer is a challenge that fulfills me, pushes me, and most importantly, assists me in my journey to become the best version of myself. If anyone has ever been interested in joining the Peace Corps, I would say to follow that desire and discover the beautiful places it will take you.

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Sophomore joins family in service to the homeless

Sophomore Eli Watson has come to appreciate the real gift of serving others by volunteering with his family to feed the homeless through Hip Hop Cares. Hip Hop Cares is a nonprofit organization in Louisville that sets up at First Street and Broadway under the overpass on Sunday afternoons to provide food, drinks, toiletries, clothing, shoes, and more to those in need.

Eli and his family began serving last fall after his mom saw an ad asking for volunteers, he said. She wanted Eli and his brother, Tre Watson ’16, to go so they could experience helping others in need. Ever since, they’ve returned every Sunday that his mom doesn’t have to work. 

Eli said he usually helps distribute food, and sometimes he has passed out bottled water or snack bags as people have waited in the long line. Sometimes he helps collect the trash left from people’s meals. Seeing the great need has had an impact on him.

“It keeps me humble and seeing a lot of people love and respect the homeless,” Eli said.

He also appreciates the positive attitude of those who are being helped.

“They don’t have a lot, but they still show a lot of love to the people helping out,” he said.

Sophomore Morgan Michels agreed. She served alongside the Watson family a few weeks ago and said it helped her be more appreciative of what she has.

“It felt good helping people because you know not everyone is as fortunate as you,” Morgan said.

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Schmidts spend fall break on medical mission trip

Helping others is just part of who Dr. Toni (Sartini) Schmidt ’78 is. Whether she is working with a patient in her Palmyra dental practice or in the Dominican Republic on a medical mission trip, she simply wants the person to feel better. She has been working with patients in her office for nearly 30 years, and earlier this month shared her dental expertise on her fourth mission trip.

Schmidt started going on the trips when her oldest daughter, Peyton ’14, was a sophomore as a way to help her experience serving others in need in other countries. She later took her daughter Maria ’16, and her husband, Mike ’78, took their son, Manny ’18, a few years later. Schmidt also has gone on a medical mission trip on her own, and this was her first with her husband. They accompanied a group from Northside Christian Church in New Albany, which partnered with Casa por Christo, a group that built a home during the trip.

Mike, who helped in her dental practice in its early years, called on those dental skills once again and served as her dental assistant. Toni Schmidt was only able to perform tooth extractions, so she focused on dental hygiene education for most of the patients. The pair worked well together, even in the primitive conditions, with Mike having to kneel on the floor because the dental chair was so low to the ground.

Schmidt said despite the poverty of the area and the stark conditions, the pair felt richly blessed by the people they served. They prayed with every patient following their treatment, and were also blessed by that experience. In one instance, the medical team and some patients were in a circle praying when a young teenage boy asked to lead the prayer. When she asked for the translation, she learned that he had prayed for her, her helper, and their family at home.

“It just touched us so deeply,” she said.

Schmidt also was touched by the similarities that she shared with many of the mothers with whom she worked. She realized that many of the people often wait until they are in pain before seeking dental care. So she focused on education to encourage them to care for their teeth to prevent the need for pulling them. When she talked to the children and teenagers through a translator, she heard the same thing from their mothers that she does in Indiana – that they just won’t brush their teeth.

“We’re all the same,” Schmidt said.

Helping other organizations
Providing dental care in the Dominican Republic wasn’t the only service to others Schmidt provided recently. In September, she raised $15,000 in donations for Hosparus at its annual Dancing with the Stars fundraiser, a competition she almost had to cancel thanks to having broken her foot in May. After seven weeks using a scooter, she was healed in just enough time to begin dancing practice.

Schmidt said she was glad for the opportunity to help such an organization – and for an excuse to get back in shape after not being able to walk. Now she is back to running but regrets she will likely never run a marathon again since her foot can’t take the stress. An avid runner for years, she has run in the Kentucky Derby Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., in her brother Gino Sartini ‘82’s name. Instead, she’ll focus on shorter races.

And now that she’s home again, she’ll focus on her family and her patients. She enjoys dentistry as much she has always since 1986, when she earned her dental degree while serving in the U.S. Army Reserves. Her first few years as a dentist were in active duty at Ft. Knox, but she has led her own private practice since 1989.

“I love it,” she said of being a dentist. “I like the artistic part of it. I like that I can make someone feel more confident and have compassion not to hurt them. Then they become a patient who likes going to the dentist.”

As for future medical mission trips, Schmidt said she likely will go but doesn’t know when – until she feels God calling her to it. She has taken a trip about every two years with a team from Northside and Casa por Christo. She likes being part of that group because the mission is well organized, and she has always felt safe no matter in which country they serve. And she is happy for the chance to share the Gospel along with dental care education.

“Everyone has something (medical expertise) they can bring,” she said. “For me, it wasn’t about how many teeth I pulled; it was about serving and educating. I wanted to let them know we all serve the same God.”

Serving God is the main impetus for each of her trips.

“I feel like I’m being obedient to God’s word when he says to go out and spread the Gospel to the nations,” she said. “If I can be a part of that, that’s what I want to be.”

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Sophomore loves to help others

Sophomore Beth Wimsatt already has nearly four times the necessary amount of service hours to meet her graduation requirement. But she has no plans to stop helping others. She is a member of the New Albany Deanery Youth Ministry Action Team (YMAT) and is involved at her parish, St. Mary of the Knobs, from volunteering at the parish fish fry to babysitting during Bible study sessions. What she has most enjoyed, though, are the summer camps and mission trips she has been involved in.

The summer before her freshman year, she participated in the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries Faith in Action, a four-day mission trip that provides local service opportunities. This past summer, she traveled to Campton, Ky., on the Wolfe Pack Mission Trip to provide service to the Appalachian community. She also spent a week as a counselor for the first time at Camp Marian on the grounds of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception and run by the Sisters of St. Benedict.

Her Camp Marian service was a new opportunity to return to the camp that she had attended as a participant for the previous three summers. Beth first found out about the four-day camp for middle school girls from a family friend, and the two were signed up to attend when her friend couldn’t go at the last minute. Beth said she was initially afraid that she would not have any fun without her friend, but she soon met new friends that she continues to connect with today.

“You really form a bond with everybody there from canoeing, swimming, and walking around the property,” Beth said. “You just have fun.”

The girls camp out in tents near the lake and take part in a number of activities, including archery and crafts. After having so much fun the first summer, Beth returned for two more sessions. This past summer, she chose to return in the only way she could – as a leader. She said being a camp counselor added a new dimension to the experience.

“It’s almost more fun to lead it,” Beth said. “You get to get there a day earlier and have lunch and dinner with the Sisters and experience their lifestyle. (I also liked) just getting to know the other counselors and getting to help others have fun.”

Beth, second from left, rehearses a scene from Honk! during Musical Theatre Production class.

Beth said she plans to continue helping others, something she learned from her mom and older sister. She knows her service hours exceed what’s required, but she doesn’t serve to rack up hours.

“It’s not for the numbers, but it’s just counting what I already do,” she said. “It’s just something I love to do now.”

Of her current service activities, Beth is active in YMAT and said she enjoys planning activities for Deanery youth. Not only is it satisfying to create opportunities for middle schoolers to “build their connection to their faith,” but she also has made close friendships with other teens on the YMAT board.

Beth also is on the JV Girls Soccer team and is active in theatre. She will play the role of the Lady in Red in the children’s show, The Enchanted Bookshop, which will be performed Oct. 26-27 , and the role of JayBird in Honk!, a musical adaptation of The Ugly Duckling put on by the PHS Musical Theater Production Class Nov. 8-11.

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Students serve, learn and win over break

Summer may be a break from the routine of school, but it still can be a time of learning and helping others, as sophomore Beth Wimsatt, junior Regan Elias, and seniors Sydney Boggs and Tyler Upton found. Tyler and Beth took part in the Wolfe Pack Mission Trip with the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries, serving the poor in Campton, Ky. Regan attended the five-day Washington Youth Summit on the Environment at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., followed by a weekend at the nearby Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. And Tyler and Sydney took part in the Clark County 4-H Fair.

Beth and Tyler spent five days helping several families with home repairs, including painting, building a wheelchair ramp, and replacing old wood siding. Although many of the days were filled with hard work, the group did have some fun, such as hiking at Natural Bridge State Park and attending a local dance. The experience had a big impact on them both.

“Wolfe Pack this year was a life changing experience,” Tyler said. “In just five days, we spent in Wolfe County, Kentucky, we helped several different families in ways such as painting, building/woodworking skills, and much more. We also grew closer as a group through prayer, adoration, and adventure excursions each night. These adventure excursions included viewing the local, breathtaking scenery all the way to attending a ‘hoedown’ to learn the local dances. I enjoyed every moment of the trip and cannot wait to attend next year!”

Beth said she was particularly touched by the people they helped.

“This trip provides the opportunity to reach out to community members of the region’s poorest area,” she said. “I quickly grew to respect the dignity the people had even in their situation. I was able to work on a variety of projects like build a ramp for someone who is wheelchair-bound, replace and repaint rotted siding on an old house, put in the ceiling, walls, and doors in a new home, and several other things to help make the world a better and more beautiful place.

“I also cannot forget the many wonderful friends I have met and made just over a six-day camp. These are people that I will know for the rest of my life and always remember.”

Winning at the 4-H Fair

When Tyler returned from his mission trip, he was able to catch the end of the Clark County 4-H Fair and show three of his pigs that he raises on his grandfather’s farm. Of his three entries, his Berkshire pig won reserve champion, the equivalent of second place, and senior Dylan Seal’s pig won third place.

Tyler also entered three static projects, posters featuring aerospace, shooting sports, and his 4-H achievements. His aerospace entry won grand champion, champion, and an entry in the Indiana State Fair – and he’ll find out this weekend how well he did at the state level.

Senior Sydney Boggs displays her reserved champion and blue ribbons for her photography entry.

Tyler is involved in three clubs in 4-H, including a junior leaders club and one focusing on gun safety and shooting sports. He said he likes being in 4-H in part because of the chance to help others in the community, such as with its recent backpack project to help needy schoolchildren get the necessary school supplies.

Tyler’s sister, junior Amanda Upton, also competed in the 4-H Fair and won reserve champion on her achievement project. Her crossbred pig entry won its class but did not score in the overall breed category.

Sydney is president of her 4-H club and often enters the cake decorating contest but this year entered the photography category. She received a blue ribbon and reserved champion. 

She said she likes being in 4-H because of how close the members are.


Learning in the nation’s capitol

Regan also had a memorable experience. She was invited to attend the WYSE conference and said she was thrilled at the opportunity to attend study sessions on large animal care. She hopes to become a veterinarian and is intrigued by the prospect of helping large animals.

“Big animals you only see when they’re in pain and you can help them get better,” she said.

The conference included break-out sessions, including ones on large animal care, as well as several speakers and tours of the monuments in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Capitol Building, several Smithsonian museums, and her favorite, the National Zoo.

Regan extended her trip with a three-day stay at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, where her group set up cameras to capture photos of animals in the conservation grounds and did several other activities.

She said she enjoyed getting a taste of dorm life and is now looking forward to college. And after spending a week there, she has added George Mason to her list of prospects.

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’68 alumnus finds way to give through second career

When Greg Henderzahs ’68 was downsized in 2009 after 39 years at American Commercial Barge Lines, he wasn’t ready to retire. He chose instead to apply his business skills to leading local nonprofit agencies, first at Camp Quality Kentuckiana and for the last five years at the Center for Lay Ministries in downtown Jeffersonville. During that time, he has helped the agency focus on what it does best – a food pantry and a halfway house for women. Now that he’s closer to age 70, the time is right for retirement, although he’s still “not ready to do nothing,” he said.

In his time as executive director of CLM, Henderzahs has learned a lot about the community and the vast need among its less fortunate. He has done his best to streamline the operations of the non-profit agency so it can effectively help those who deal daily with issues such as hunger and recovery from addiction. He treats its clients with compassion, learning their names and their stories, and sometimes helping out of his own pocket.

“Working at ACBL for 39 years, it was just completely different,” he said. “I wasn’t aware of things like poverty, homelessness, addiction, the need for halfway houses. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Then I got here, and I really feel like I’ve made a difference. I hope I have made a difference.”

The Center does indeed make a difference. In its last fiscal year, the food pantry served nearly 20,000 people, from bags of food that can be prepared without cooking for those who are homeless to providing a supply of pantry staples to those in need. Its Bliss House and Bliss House Too help women recovering from addiction by providing stability, boundaries, addiction recovery services, and faith support.

Henderzahs also has learned much about the value of volunteers. He can’t run the agency and offer its services alone – nor can the budget afford to pay people to staff all of its positions. So it relies on about 75 volunteers – who man the food pantry, serve on the Bliss House Committee, and serve on CLM’s board of directors. He has come to see that such help is essential to the success not only of his agency but to the country at large.

“Volunteers are the heartbeat of America,” he said. “If we don’t have volunteers to do the many things that volunteers do, I don’t know how we as a country can do what we do. Volunteers are so important.”

Financial support and food donations are important too. ACBL has become a valued partner for the agency, as is Meijer’s Simply Give Campaign, which matches customers’ purchase of donation gift cards. Dare to Care in Louisville and the Midwest Food Bank in Indianapolis provide the bulk of the food donations, with local churches, organizations, and individuals filling in the gaps.

Henderzahs’ leadership focus is to run the agency like a business as much as possible, but with a difference. Its resources come from donations and grants, not from selling or manufacturing things. But like any good CEO, he knows who to tap to provide the necessary help, whether the mayor or the sheriff’s office or a local paving company to help with snow removal. And he’s not shy about asking his friends and former classmates to pitch in.

“A lot of folks I reel in to help,” Henderzahs said. “I coaxed them. They knew I needed help, and I knew they had the skill sets and abilities to do the things I needed.”

For example, Dave Nole ’68 drives the Center’s truck to pick up food donations from Dare to Care, Carl Koetter ’68 trains the volunteers, and Mike Lankert ’68 serves on the board – to name a few.

As he plans for retirement in November, he intends to continue serving on the City of New Albany Parks & Recreation Board, the New Albany Planning Commission, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, his parish. He may even pick up a few more volunteer opportunities, but it won’t be at the Center, as much as he loves the people there.

“My replacement needs to be able to manage things without me being around and without people coming to me and saying, ‘Greg, what do you think,’” he said.

Henderzahs and his wife of 48 years, Patricia, live in New Albany. Their children are alumni, Kim (Henderzahs) Arnson ’90 and Dr. Kevin Henderzahs ’93. Their grandson Ben Arnson is a 2017 graduate and grandson Jack Arnson is a junior.

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Local attorney helps physician stay in U.S.

As an attorney and Clarksville town judge, Jimmie Guilfoyle ’05 has heard many stories from clients and trial defendants. But few moved him like that of Dr. Ali, a Louisville intensive care pulmonary specialist and a native of Syria. The physician works at the same Louisville hospital with Guilfoyle’s wife, Casey, a nurse. Dr. Ali had heard her husband was an attorney and one day earlier this year approached her to see if he might be able to help him resolve his stagnant Permanent Residence Card application.

She immediately called her husband, and upon hearing his story, Guilfoyle picked up the phone and started calling anyone he could think of to help. Thanks to his efforts, Dr. Ali can now remain working in the United States and travel to see his family for the first time in years.

Prior to helping Dr. Ali, Guilfoyle had no experience in immigration law. In fact, he didn’t know where to begin to help him, but he knew he had to.

“I heard a story that pulled at my heart, and I took a vested personal interest in this man because of who I perceived him to be, and I was just not going to stop until we accomplished this,” Guilfoyle said.

Dr. Ali, on left, poses with his uncle, an Atlanta surgeon who has become like a father to him since he has been unable to return home.

Dr. Ali first came to the United States 10 years ago after earning his medical degree from the University of Aleppo. Under a student visa, he completed his residency and came to Louisville under a fellowship and opted to stay. In the meantime, the civil war in Syria broke out.

His family was scattered, his brother was killed in an air strike on civilians, and his parents’ home was severely damaged by bombs several times. His desire to return home to practice medicine after completing his fellowship waned the more he became accustomed to the freedoms and the acceptance he experienced in this country and as his home country was destroyed by war.

“From the first time I came to this country, they treated me with the utmost dig and respect,” Dr. Ali said. “I have an accent. I look different. But no one treated me like I didn’t belong. I always wanted to serve this country because it treated me with the utmost respect and dignity. I came from country where it is a dictatorship – I love my country. It was beautiful before the war – but on the other hand, the dictatorship was on our neck. To be able to come from that country and be treated like I was treated – I appreciate what this country gave me.”

The physicians’s application for his Green Card, as it is more commonly known, had been filed several years ago and despite efforts of immigration attorneys in New York, had yet to be processed and was soon to expire. That meant losing his job, losing his home, and even the potential of facing arrest or execution upon his return to Syria.

Guilfoyle started the process of helping him by reaching out to those he thought could make a difference. After several leads and attempts, he finally was able to speak to Rep. John Yarmuth and share Dr. Ali’s story – and the sense of urgency. If Dr. Ali were to be deported, he likely would be arrested in part because he did not comply with the country’s mandatory military service requirement, either by enlisting or paying the fee to defer it. And he has been vocal against the war and the regime. Those who are arrested for such crimes are never seen again, Dr. Ali said.

After Rep. Yarmuth heard Dr. Ali’s story, his office reached out to the U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington, D.C., and the application finally began to be processed – although with no guarantee of approval. Then in June, Dr. Ali finally did receive his Green Card and is now classified as a permanent resident. He can continue to work here and can now travel to see his family for the first time. A family reunion in a country neighboring Syria is already in the works.

Dr. Ali said he is immensely grateful to the efforts Guilfoyle underwent on his behalf – all without charge.

“He went above and beyond for no benefit except to help me,” Dr. Ali said. “He’s trying to help people. He’s trying to help his country. Not only me, but my family, my parents, they are so grateful.”

Guilfoyle said he was happy to help. He sees Dr. Ali as an asset to our community, as a brilliant physician, and as a person who needed his hope restored.

“He’s a son; he’s a brother; he bleeds red just like we do,” Guilfoyle said. “By all accounts everything he’s done in his life is either to improve his lot in life or improve somebody else’s. I don’t see why it makes it any diff where he was born. If that the kind of person you are, I want you in my community. As far as what I did, I don’t feel like I did a whole lot for him except making a lot of phone calls.”

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Alumnus’ love for Crusade comes full circle

For Sgt. Michael Osborne ’05, his admiration for firefighters and his involvement with the WHAS Crusade for Children have been intertwined his whole life. His godfather, Dale Popp ’69, a retired Jeffersonville fire captain, was active on the department when Osborne was growing up, When Osborne was in third grade, Popp invited him to ride on the firetruck and help collect for the Crusade. At the time, Osborne was more thrilled with the prospect of riding on the firetruck than helping others, but collecting for the Crusade became an annual routine. Now, he has made both loves part of his career as a Jeffersonville firefighter.

It wasn’t until Osborne was an emergency medical technician with Yellow Ambulance after high school that the benefit of all those years collecting hit home. A few of his runs would involve transporting young cancer patients to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville. There he saw the Crusade logo posted in play areas and other places in the medical facility.

“That really made me realize that as a kid (what I collected), this was here that money went to,” he said. “I saw that and I thought, ‘Okay, I need to step up and be more involved.”

In 2008, Osborne followed in his godfather’s footsteps and joined the Jeffersonville Fire Department and proudly participated in its Crusade collection activities. Two years later, he was offered the chance to oversee the department’s Crusade activities, and he gladly took on the responsibility. That year, the department collected its highest amount ever, nearly $57,000.

Osborne was stunned at the total and quickly realized he had just set a lofty goal to hit every year. The department didn’t pass that total in the next seven years, but there’s always hope that it will, he said.

“It’s been tough to keep the bar at that standard,” he said. “We haven’t done it since then, but that’s our goal to beat that one day. We will. It’s just going to take time and effort.”

Osborne has added several fundraisers to help boost the department’s contributions. In 2011, he started an annual fishing tournament to benefit the Crusade. He works with Bass Pro Shop and A20 Boating Supplies and Pro Shop to run the event and for donations for raffle prizes. Competitors fish on the Ohio River from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and return to a spread cooked by J & L Catering and paid for by the Jeffersonville Fire Fighters Local 558.

About 20 to 30 boats participate, many of them repeat competitors who enjoy competitive fishing and the chance to donate to the Crusade. This year’s tournament had 23 boats and brought in one of its highest totals at $4,750, thanks to numerous sponsors and the winners donating back their first place prize – a guaranteed $1,000 pot.

Several other events will happen this weekend during the annual Crusade Weekend. Several years ago, the Heartland Payment Systems vs. JFD basketball game was added. The game is a fun culmination of all the fundraising activities that take place at the company for the Crusade throughout the year. It’s mainly a “battle for bragging rights,” and department’s success often depends on who’s on duty. It’s not unusual for some of the players to be called out on runs during the game, and sometimes bystanders get pulled in as subs, Osborne said.

On Friday, First Harrison Bank located at 2744 Allison Lane in Jeffersonville, will host a fundraising cookout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. while the firefighters collect donations at a nearby roadblock. Kevin Burke ’78, business development officer and vice president for the bank branch, is a big help in that fundraising effort, which usually brings in between $4,000 and $5,000 between the cookout and the roadblock, Osborne said.

Osborne has learned that organizing the department’s Crusade collection efforts is more than a one-person job, and he lets others handle organizing the individual events like the charity basketball game and the cookout. He has gotten busier over the last eight years by taking up a part-time job, but the department also is busy and fire runs sometimes interfere with its plans to hold roadblocks in the last two weekends of May. That’s why he’s appreciative of help from local groups and teams like the Providence Football team, which has helped out on Crusade weekends the last few years.

File Photo

Fellow Jeffersonville firefighter Chris McCain ’86 and Coach Larry Denison ’86 are friends, and McCain has sons on the team. So McCain approached Osborne with an offer for the team’s help as a way for the team to conduct a charity event and earn the players service hours. The team has been a big help, especially with some of the city’s larger neighborhoods, Osborne said. With the team’s assistance, a 500-home subdivision can be canvassed in about an hour. He looks forward to their helping again this weekend.

“I really enjoy having the help of the Providence Football team,” Osborne said, noting that he welcomes any team or students who want to help on Saturday. “It doesn’t have to be just the football team, though. “I’ll take as much help as I can get.”

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Seniors go beyond the minimum for service

Our students are required to accumulate 60 hours in service to organizations outside of school over their four years here. For some students, once they begin volunteering, they soon find that they enjoy helping others and go beyond the minimum requirement. Many of these students are involved in their parish youth ministry and were recognized by the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries last week, including the following:

  • Senior Katie Baker, who was previously featured in the eVision for her having received the President’s Volunteer Service Award as a sophomore and for initiating a mission trip to Guatemala  with senior Natalie Gallegos, received the C.J. Smith Service Above Self award.
  • Senior Ethan Furnish, who was previously featured for his service work, received the Dean Kraemer Spirit of Hope award.
  • Senior Heidi Popson, who is featured below, received the Fr. Tom Stumph Excellence in Leadership award.

For a full list of students recognized for their Deanery youth ministry participation, click here. Read below for a description of six seniors and their service work.

Seniors Emma Flispart, Ryan Strahm, and Heidi Popson have nearly 600 hours combined serving in various church ministries.

Heidi Popson accumulated nearly 150 service hours serving primarily as a youth leader for Holy Family Youth Ministry and a regular volunteer for the soup kitchen at St. Paul Episcopal in New Albany. She plans to attend Indiana University-Bloomington and major in nursing.

Question: Why did you get involved in those service areas?
Answer: I got involved in youth ministry in order to stay active at my grade school after eighth grade. I got involved at the soup kitchen mostly after our Sophomore Retreat when we were able to sit down and talk to people eating at the soup kitchen. I was able to see just how impactful these meals were. I felt that I was capable of ensuring that this would remain available to those who need it.

Q. What do you like about volunteering for those specific ministries?
A. I enjoy volunteering at Holy Family in order to represent the youth’s voice when planning activities and working to draw as many students to participate in these activities as possible. I enjoy working at the soup kitchen because it allows me to connect with people whom I do not usually encounter in my daily life and to show them equal dignity and respect.

Q. What do you like about service in general?
A. In general, I like that service allows me to use my talents and abilities to build and maintain my local community. I also like that it allows me to make connections with people who are often forgotten.

Q. Who was your primary role model in doing service?
A. My primary role model in doing service for others was Abbi Hamm ’16. I always looked up to her while she was at Providence.

Claire Harper, middle, poses with two other students while on a mission trip in Appalachia.

Claire Harper has nearly 200 service hours, primarily by participating in various mission trips offered by the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries, including Faith in Action and Wolfe Pack mission trips. The Faith in Action mission trip is a local mission trip helping members in the local community with various activities and repairs. The Wolfe Pack mission trip serves the Appalachian people in the town of Campton, Ky., with house repairs or companionship. She also was a member of YMAT (Youth Ministry Action Team) and helped plan and manage events put on by the New Albany Deanery. Claire will attend Bellarmine University and study biology on a pre-med track.

Question: Why did you get involved in those service areas?
Answer: I first began to get involved in these service areas because my older sister, Natalie Harper ’15, had also been involved in these service areas. I watched and saw the expertise that she acquired through mission trips and YMAT, and I decided that I, too, wanted to have the same kind of experiences that she had. The first mission trip that I went on was Faith in Action. I loved this trip so much, so I just continued to go on them.

Q. What do you like about volunteering for those specific ministries?
A. I really enjoy attending mission trips because I get to help and interact with people I do not necessarily know, but get to know through this service. With the Wolfe Pack mission trip, we are only in Campton for less than a week. However, by the end of the week, it is like we, too, are a part of their small community. Simply experiencing the compassion expressed from the people in this community is enough to keep coming back time after time. I enjoy working with YMAT because I am able to be a part of the background work that goes into planning and managing the same Deanery events that I enjoyed attending when I was a kid.

Q. What do you like about service in general?
A. I enjoy service in general simply because of the human connection formed through it. I usually don’t know the people connected with the service I do, but no matter who they are or what they do, the underlying connection that is formed over the course of the service surprises me every time. Just to be able to get to know a complete stranger in such an intimate way makes service worth it every single time.

Q. Do you feel you represent Providence in these ministries?
A. I do feel like I represent Providence in my areas of service especially with service located in this region. As I serve my community, I honor Providence and help boost our reputation as a compassionate and gracious community.

Emma Flispart has nearly 200 service hours, primarily from helping with the St. Anthony track team and St. Anthony Youth Ministry planning team. She plans to attend Indiana University Southeast and study nursing.

Question: Why did you get involved in this ministry?
Answer: Our youth minister sent out an email asking if I could help with the team for service hours. I love track, so that’s why I help. My brother is also on the team, so I take him to practice most of the time anyway. I help coach third through eighth grade shot put and discus, and whatever else they need. I do those events for the Providence Track team, so it helps me help them.

Q. What do you like about volunteering for those ministries?
A. I like that they (track athletes) generally want to do it and want to be taught. I’m always proud of them because they do work hard in practice. And I like planning and then working the events for our youth ministry.

Q. Do you feel you represent Providence in these ministries?
A. I do. Several of the girls have said they want to be on the team here. That makes me feel good.

Q. Who was your primary role model in doing service?
A. My parents do a lot at St. Anthony. I don’t do it (volunteer) for the service hours. I like to help.

Ryan Strahm has nearly 200 hours primarily through volunteering at Northside Christian Church, where his family attends in addition to St. John Paul II. He plans to attend IUB and major in business economics and public policy.

Question: Why did you get involved in this ministry?
Answer: I’ve been helping out on Sundays every other week since fifth grade in the early childhood area. Now I do lights and sounds for the children’s shows every other week at 11:30 a.m. At first, I was helping my parents in their classroom. Then they started the childcare, and I started helping there. When I got old enough, I was able to volunteer for what I really wanted to do, which is the tech part, and I’ve been doing that ever since.

Q. What do you like about volunteering for those specific ministries?
A. Since I’ve done it so long, I’ve seen kids actually growing up. Now some of them are the same age I was when I first started helping.

Q. What do you like about service in general?
A. It’s a way to get to know people in the community. The same people have been in charge of the program the whole time I’ve been involved, so getting to know them and them know me, has been good. I asked them to write my college recommendation letters. And getting to know people I would’ve never met otherwise is good.

Q. Who was your primary role model in doing service?
A. My parents and my family. My parents have helped at Northside since I was a kid, and my siblings all helped out too. I saw them fulfill their service hours doing something they liked to do.

Jessica Lancaster has nearly 150 hours primarily through coaching middle school cheerleading teams at Holy Family School. She plans to attend IUB. She is undecided about her major but is considering business.

Question: Why did you get involved in coaching cheerleading?
Answer: I’ve been a part of the sport since third grade, and I’ve grown to have a strong passion for it. I love coaching and helping out my Deanery school. I would also love to coach a high school team one day.

Q: What do you like about service in general?
A: Service is very satisfying. Knowing that you are doing something you love for the better of others is very motivating.

Q: Who were your primary role models in doing service for others?
A: My role models were my middle school cheerleading coaches. I loved cheerleading at Holy Family when I was young, and I wanted to help continue the tradition.

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