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Letter to the Editor: Consider supporting Islanders making an impact across the country
Our son Max and I just returned from visiting Loyola New Orleans. After having spent time with three Vashon 20-somethings — Jaron Berliner and Caitlin and Erin Canfield — I find I am bursting with pride and admiration. Jaron is a second-year Spanish teacher at an inner-city school. Caitlin is studying at Tulane University, and her sister Erin moved down recently. This summer, Caitlin, Jaron and Erin are taking 10 students to Panama for 10 days of volunteer community service.
What is highly unusual about this trip is that the three young people are taking 10 students from Jaron’s school in the heart of New Orleans. They are creating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for these young scholars. Most have never been out of New Orleans, let alone out of the country.
As a second-year teacher, Jaron has made deep connections with his students — strong enough that their parents or guardians are entrusting him with the care of their children. Caitlin is raising money for the trip. These students, many of whom are living in poverty, cannot count upon parents or friends to provide funding.
Caitlin currently spends a large chunk of her days fund raising. Erin, who was involved in Amigos, is setting up programming in Panama. These three young people are taking the values the Vashon community nurtured within them and passing them on to some young people in New Orleans. Their actions will positively impact the lives of their students.
After seeing their commitment, diligence and dedication, I felt compelled to share with you — the community who instilled these values in them in the first place — the opportunity to lighten their load. It was easy for me to make a donation, and I hope you will consider doing the same. Visit nolatruth.org/panama-service-learning-trip to learn more.
— Eddie Westerman