Reflections 2016
Quentin Brooks

We all know that good things come to an end at some point in time, I just wish it didn't happen with ASP. This was my third and final ASP trip as a teen and I'm glad to say I accomplished my goals I set before leaving for the trip. I told myself that I was going to push myself to accomplish as much work as possible on the family's house and create a strong relationship with the family.

Words can't describe my experience with ASP this year. I'm not a very emotional person, but this trip really got to me. I went into the week with an open mind and after meeting Wayne and Randy I knew this year was something special. Learning more about Randy's disability and Wayne's constant care really motivated me to get the job done. Come the end of Wednesday our group was almost half finished with the ramp and the work slowed down as we noticed that with all the set backs we might not finish.

I told myself that I am not getting in the van on Friday until I see Randy go down the completed ramp. I told the rest of the group and they quickly agreed that we would stay until it is finished. The work was long and strenuous, but as a group we got the job done in a week. The end of Friday rolled around. Standing back, my group and I watched Wayne push Randy down his new ramp. That is something I will always remember and keep in my heart. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that all the hard work paid off in the end.

My relationship with Randy and the family was something I have never had on any previous ASP trips. The family opened up their house to us and loved to talk and learn about each of us. Randy was always active and loved to see us and show us his collection of hand held radios, plastic bags and his watch. I went to West Virginia wearing a watch and I ended up leaving it there with a new owner. After sitting down and talking with Randy on Tuesday, I decided that I would really want to leave a piece of me with him so he would remember me, my group and what we made for him. The face he made when I gave him the watch after completing the ramp was priceless. He quickly grasped and tapped it excitedly as he was fascinated with the movement. I will never forget that moment as Randy marveled over the watch passed on from a new friend and the beautiful ramp made by the love and hands of my work crew.

I can say that I never wanted to leave West Virginia

and coming home was really hard especially knowing

that I won't be able to have an ASP experience ever

again. ASP has made me into who I am today and it

will continue to always be a part of me. Thank you to

all my friends and family for the support over the past

3 years and thank you Howard for everything you

have done to make ASP an amazing experience for

all of us.

Rachael Metzger

Our family we served consisted of many members, all with personalities bigger than this room. First, we met Troy, father and uncle to the children on the worksite. Troy is extremely passionate about his family. He had to fight to get his kids back from Child Protective Services and he won. Troy is also a talented and skilled carpenter. He informed us and helped us greatly with the construction we were doing on the house. Troy and his wife, Jaime, just had a baby girl about a month ago. Her name is Isabella and she is a ball of sunshine. We also met two of Troy’s sons, Josh and Dakota, who are ages six and seven. The boys loved sword fighting with extra insulation and always kept us entertained. Troy Sr., Troy’s father, and Joseph, Troy’s nephew, were always willing to help us out with anything. Troy Sr. assisted us in assembling scaffolding, which was a very important piece of equipment for our group. Joseph is a very intelligent thirteen-year-old. He loved to talk about hunting and boating with his family. Unfortunately, we did not get to interact with a couple of the family members, as they were occupied doing other things. Spending time with Troy and his family changed all of our lives for the better. Our group built a very strong relationship with the family and we are blessed that we were able to serve them.

This was my first year on ASP. I would always ask returning members a bunch of questions about the trip when they came home. They would all say how life changing it was and how I needed to experience ASP myself to know the feeling. I decided to give it a shot since this past summer was my last opportunity. Throughout the week, I built relationships with my group members, the rest of St. Marcelline’s ASP group, and the family we served. With every day that passed, more progress was made on the house. The amount of fulfillment and happiness I experienced was overwhelming. Seeing the smile on Troy’s face when we gifted him with a washer and knowing that we made a huge difference in him and his family’s lives made every second worth it. Knowing what I know now about the trip, I wish I had done it sooner. I am so blessed and lucky to have had this experience of a lifetime. ASP definitely changed me for the better. Now that I have experienced it myself, I know the feeling all of the past members talked about. It is very hard to put into words, so I’ll try to put it into three. Inspiring, motivating, and incredible.

Danielle Trybus

This was my first year on ASP and it was nothing that I expected at all. Back in September of 2015 I thought I missed my chance to be a part of such an amazing group. My life changed forever when I found out that there was an opening for ASP in March. I was thrilled that I was apart of the ASP group. The night before leaving for West Virginia all I felt was excitement and couldn't wait for my alarm to buzz at 3:30am. But that morning my feelings went from excitement to nervousness. To think that the day has finally come that I have been waiting for since March, I didn't know what to expect.

As soon as we walked up to the family and started making conversation I felt determined to give them a warm, safe, and dry home to live in. Throughout the week I pushed myself and my team to work as hard as we could to finish our end goal. Even though it seemed as though there were more lows than high during the week, seeing the finished product Friday afternoon took all of them away. All week I was disappointed in myself because it looked like nothing was getting done. But after taking a step back and looking at the finished rooms and smiles in our home owners eyes, I felt more than accomplished. There is no better feeling in the world than  making a difference in our home owner's lives. During my ASP experience I learned to not take anything for granted and to enjoy every moment. I also have learned a lot about myself throughout this trip. I can honestly ASP has changed my life forever and I will never forget all the friendships, memories, and work that were made in West Virginia.

Throughout our two awesome activities, Cedar Point and Whitewater rafting, I knew this was going to be a trip to remember. I grew tremendously close with my group and knew that we worked well and would have each other's backs. Pulling up to our home owner's owners house Sunday night for the home visit, my heart felt like it was skipping beats.

Kelsey Davis

As many of you know, St. Marcelline is home to a variety of youth ministry groups to help teens and young adults become involved in faith, service, and the community. One of these very special organizations is the Appalachia Service Project, which leads many members of our church to repair homes in towns in the Appalachian Mountains suffering from high poverty and unemployment rates. This year marks our church’s 17th annual ASP trip, however, it was my first time experiencing this wonderful journey.

On Friday July 8th at approximately 4:00 AM, 34 teens and 12 adult leaders eagerly piled into 6 vans headed toward Guyan Valley, West Virginia. There was a series of preparation for this trip including role playing, learning about the community, retreats, operating power tools, and lots and lots of food. The time had finally arrived and although the night was foggy, nothing beat the image of a brigade of St. Marcelline ASP vans driving down Wise Road on a literal mission.

Not only did we repair her home but through our group and all of ASP, we restored Heather’s faith. Heather was diagnosed with a disease that prevented her from working and being able to take care of her children the way she used to. Heather explained to us that after receiving this news it seemed like more and more problems with her home and family arose and there was nothing she could do physically, or financially, but give up hope. Then with ASP, Heather said her world got noticeably brighter. God had answered her prayers and given her family a safer and warmer home. Each day, happy and smiling faces would enter Heather’s house and give her something to look forward to and new friendships to make. The positivity was infectious and Heather only became more and more elated about the entire process. At the end of the week we purchased Heather a screen door so she would be able to watch Blake from inside and prevent bugs from entering the house. Tears formed in her eyes as she saw the door being installed, a door she had wanted for the past three years. She told our group she felt like she won the lottery and she could not wait to paint her house once the work was done. She said that people with faith have a bigger smile than others, and as the week went on I could see Heather’s smile get bigger and bigger.

It was difficult to say goodbye to Heather and Blake, but I understand that God has a plan and there’s a reason why we were all meant to be in each other’s lives. Everyone in my group shared their favorite memories from the week and I was surprised to find that we all were touched by a different moment. God spoke to each one of us to connect with this amazing family in a time specific to our personal experiences. At the root of it all, we connected with a family from a completely different community in a way I will never be able to put into words. We are all God’s people created with our own strengths and weaknesses, but we must find the way to complement and bond with one another. ASP changed my respect and perception of life, but it is unique for every person. If you really want to find out the secret, you’re going to have to make the decision to experience it for yourself.

Beginning four years ago, I had the opportunity every summer to join ASP, but I was hesitant because of my fears of traveling outside of my comfort zone. I did have many friends participate in ASP each year, and I could see the excitement and joy in their faces when I would ask how their trip went. The most common response I would receive was “It was life changing.” I would usually give a puzzled look to their vague answer and question, “How?” I would immediately see their smiles shine brighter and their eyes widen with happiness as they gave me an even more intriguing response of “You’ll have to join next year to find out.” Finally, approaching my senior year of high school, I gave into the mystery and decided I needed to discover the experience for myself.

We all arrived to the ASP center hopeful and anticipating the next day’s events with meeting the family and beginning our projects. The family my group would be serving was a woman named Heather who lived with 4 children whom she adored. Her oldest son is currently studying Political Science at the University of West Virginia, and you could actually feel the warmth and pride emanating from Heather when she spoke of her son’s accomplishments. Her youngest son, Blake, is arguably the most outgoing, joyous, and energetic four-year-old in this world. Blake immediately opened up to us, asking to jump on his trampoline or chase him around the block. He made for the best source of motivation when working long hours in the sweltering heat to persevere and give this family the best job possible. Although, sometimes his invitations to jump on the trampoline were much too tempting and we all took an enjoyable break to make him happy. The most crucial elements of Heather’s home in need of repair were the bathroom, which had been out of water for the past week and lacked a wall for the bath tub, and the soffits and fascia on the outside needed to be installed. My group’s plan was to divide and conquer with one group working on the bathroom, one outside, and a third on the plumbing. Ultimately we were able to accomplish all of our goals, which included installing a new toilet and hot water heater, building a new wall in the bathroom, and completing a majority of water prevention on both sides of the house. These tasks were not done easily, but all of our troubles were forgotten when Heather would come to look at our work at the end of each day and tears would well in her eyes as she could see the progress we made in restoring her home.

Justyna Niechwiej

My ASP experience this year was indescribable. It took me hours and days to try and place the right words together and then I finally realized that it doesn't have to be a perfect description- just one that means something to me. I firmly believe that ASP has made me a better person. ASP has a way of bringing you this nostalgic feeling of euphoria and joy that you can't feel anywhere else. There's something about service that opens up your heart and your mind to things you wouldn't have been open to before. There's also something about ASP that makes you have the ability to form connections and relationships with those around you. It's almost a safe place where you can rely on not being subjugated or judged for being yourself, and that's hard to find now-a-days. I'm pretty outgoing myself, but I wouldn't have the guts to talk to maybe half of the people in this room right now if it weren't for ASP teaching me to be open to people and to not be afraid to be myself because the right people will like me for me. This year really hit home for me. I'm leaving for college in 8 days and I'm going to so far away from home and so far away from the many people I have grown to love in this room. Asp is a time to not only find yourself through service, but to also find yourself in general and have the right people bring that out. That's exactly what happened to me this year. I'll never forget this year and will bring it with me to college and bring it with me on all of my future endeavors. Thank you to everyone in this room for helping me find myself and for being some of the best people I have ever met in life. I'll miss you all and I hope that those of you going on ASP next year really immerse yourself in the experience because you'll get more out of it then you actually put into it. And that's a truly amazing feeling.

Kate Giglio

Everyone always says each year is different. And it is. This being my fourth year, I came into the trip having lots of expectations. I already knew the ropes and I knew how the trip works each year. I learned not to expect too much out of it because no year would ever live up to my first. But that was a lie. My final ASP trip has surpassed the years before it and is definitely the one I'll remember most. I've never connected to a family more than this one. It's crazy to think that after just 5 days of sharing conversation, laughs and love, it's heartbreaking to say goodbye. The first couple of days on the worksite were rough. It seemed like all we were doing was digging holes in the hot sun and standing around. I thought there was no way that we could finish. So whenever I felt like my hands weren't needed, I would go inside and start up a conversation with the family. I would walk to Randy's chair and sit down on the ground right next to him. I learned all about his background through his caretaker Teresa. I talked to Randy and I gave him the attention that he adored. Randy became my friend. In that moment I wanted nothing more than to see Randy get wheeled down that ramp. Wednesday through Friday we continuously worked hard and pulled through. After driving in that last screw, tears fell to my eyes. Looking at the ramp and seeing how nicely everything came together I couldn't believe that 6 teens and 2 adults could finish something like that in just 5 days. We called Randy and his brother Wayne outside. It was time to wheel him down. For once I actually lived in the present. With each rotation of the wheels more joy flooded the green team. It was the perfect ending to ASP. I want to thank everyone who made these four years unforgettable and so uplifting. Thank you Green Team for becoming life long friends and pushing me through the rough times and reminding me of all the better times to come. Thank you Mom and Dad for always being so supportive and trusting me enough to let me go each summer. And thank you St. Marcelline ASP for all the unbelievable experiences you've provided me with. I'll definitely miss the mountains and the love and happiness it brings me.

Alvin Martin

This year being my first year of ASP I didn’t know what to expect other than hearing how eye opening and fun it is, and it truly was. I will never forget this experience and the memories that came along with it. I will always remember the feeling of accomplishment after completing what our group had at the end of the week, along with the gratitude the family had shown. I was surprised how grateful they were considering how we did not complete the house, but how happy they were with what we had done. This trip made me realize that some things that I take for granted are really valued to others. With all that’s happened on this trip, I will definitely continue with asp throughout high school.     

Joe Berg

Going on asp for the first time as a graduated senior, I had a lot to expect and I was a little bit nervous. When I first met the family, I was nervous and shy. It turns out that the family was shy also so we couldn't exactly talk for long without awkward silence. The first day went by so fast that I was surprised how it was lunch already and it felt like I barely did any work on our house. By the end of the day, I felt accomplished. The next day I had a more difficult task of trying to mud/screw drywall on a uneven staircase while trying to configure a ladder so it fits. Once again the day flew by. On Wednesday, we had a plan set and knew what to do and how to do it. We made a huge dent in the house. On Thursday, I helped the homeowner, Teddy, put stairs to the attic. We bonded over our teamwork and that's when we started to actually talk. On Friday, we got to the work site and were sad to leave that day, but on a mission to complete our tasks. We worked to the last minute to compete our tasks. About an hour before we were to leave the worksite, the homeowners wife, Amber, came over and started showing pictures of their wedding to us. Then the family added the whole group on Facebook so we can keep in touch. During the week at the work center, we had the chance to relax and spend quality time with everyone. Almost every night we went out for ice cream as a group. I think we got closer to each other during these ice cream runs. The overall trip brought me closer to everyone and closer to God.

michelle borla

This year was my fourth and final ASP trip.  I feel so blessed to have been a part of something that is so hard to let go.  Because this was my final year, I wanted to make this year all about the family, and so I did.  Wayne, Randy, Theresa and Lena were the highlight of my summer.  Usually on ASP, I feel as though I have to make it a point to work extra hard on construction, lift heavy things and do everything the boys can do, just to prove myself. I have never gotten as close to a family as I did this year. Sure, we put up an entire ramp, but we did it with purpose!  Seeing Randy going down the ramp was a feeling I cannot put into words.

Nor could I even fathom hearing Wayne say he didn’t want us to leave, it confused me.  I didn’t understand why he enjoyed us so much. It didn’t make sense then, but on Friday we all experienced an overwhelming rush of emotion. I can genuinely say I have never felt more in the presence of God than I did that day.  Every year ASP is special in its own way, but I couldn’t have had a better end to this experience!

Paul Jaworowski

This being my fourth year on ASP I imagined a repeat of previous years. But as the days grew closer I realized my group dynamic was very different than in the past.  A majority of my group members were new to ASP and I was worried that might affect the week. But each and everyone of them proved me wrong. We accomplished so much and became close as any group could. This year's Gold team reminded me why I continually return back to ASP. Yes, the work we do is important and faith is important too, but it's the people that keep me coming back. The families, my friends, the people in the communities we serve rejoice my enjoyment of life. I come back every year to be with the people I come in contact with: to have good times that I will remember forever.

Donato Copertino

The family we were working with was a mom and daughter. Brenda, the mother, had a lot of faith in God. One day while we were sitting down with her, she told us how she lost her son in a car crash about two years ago. She also said how God will give you “double for your trouble.” She told us how she felt as if ASP was double all the trouble she went though. Throughout the days working at the home, Brenda would always have a smile on her face, mostly after we completed a task.


If we were having troubles or something went wrong, Brenda would promise to pray for us later that day when she went to church. Her daughter, Jennifer, was outgoing; she would talk to us when she had the chance to, like if we were all eating lunch together. The day we left to head back home, Brenda told us to make sure to keep helping the world like we helped her.

Madi white

This is my final year of ASP, and as everyone has and will say, it's like no other. Every year is a different experience. Every year, there's a new family, a new center, and a new home that needs repairs. I personally believe that the reason you come back to ASP varies year to year. My first year, I wanted to try something new. Proving to myself that I could do it was more important to me than actually going to serve the families. The second year around, I began to actually realize the importance of ASP. These families were in situations that could not be fixed by themselves. Like all of us at some point in our lives, they need someone to serve them.

Whether St. Marcelline sends another group of teens down to Appalachia or not next year, there will still be walls needing replacing and ceilings needing patches. The difference though is that there will be a group of us down there next year, and the year after that and so on. We as a church have made so many continuous contributions of time and energy down in Appalachia, and spent days serving others in order to better their lives. I'm honored to be a part of this legacy. While I wish I could come back again and again to this group, I know that it was a gift not meant to last forever. I am so so grateful to Howard and the purple team and all the other teens and adults on this trip. I'm honored to be able to say I served among you, so thank you for having me for the past three years. I'll never forget it.

But still, I came back because of myself. I'd had such a fun time the year before and I knew it would look good to colleges, so the trip wasn't nearly as selfless as it seemed. My third and final year going on this trip, everything clicked into place. What this trip meant to me, wasn't and isn't really important. The trip is about the family. Whether I come back another year or not, there are still going to be homes down in Appalachia that need repair.

olivia zimmerman

When I signed up for this trip, I knew that I would come back and not take anything I have in my life for granted, but I didn't think that I would learn something from my homeowner, Brenda. I was working on Brenda's window on Wednesday, which is right near a shelf where she keeps these real nice pictures. I asked her about the people in them, and she told me about her son, how he died in a car accident at 36, leaving an 11 year old son; and of her sons' best friend, who died that same week in a motorcycle collision; and of her husband, who she loved even when times were tough, and how he died years earlier; of her brother, who was close in age and always looked out for her, how he died a couple years ago; and of her daughter, who was sick, and had to put her 2 children into foster care. All this loss, all this tragedy, and somehow, someway, she kept her head up. She was still positive, and welcoming, and still had faith and love for God and the world in her heart. I've been going through some difficult personal situations right now, and Brenda taught me that strength, love, and hope, can get you through anything that is thrown in your path.