From Charity Case to Friend

Common Application: Evaluate a significant experience and its impact on you


Harlan County, Kentucky, deemed the poorest in the United States, hosts the Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries' (CYFM) Appalachian Mission Program every July. For the past two years I have been a participant. The first year I worked as a manual laborer, constructing a deck, along with five other people, for a family who resided in a trailer with only half a roof. Although the family suffered from an unmistakable absence of material wealth, I learned their mindset was not one to pity, but rather one to envy.

After five days of toiling under a sweltering sun, the emotional connection I made with the family was far greater than the physical connection made with about fifty pieces of plywood and a rubber-handled hammer. The sense of appreciation and gratitude I felt from the homeowners inspired me in a way I had never experienced before. Titus and his family impressed me in that I was no longer satisfied with just tending to the needs of their home, but I was captured by their personal needs as well. By the end of the week, I remained hours after the workday ended to chat with Titus' son, Wesley, about everything from school, to girls, to the University of Louisville basketball team (he was a huge fan). The development...

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