By Emily Drooby
Xavier H.S. students are rolling up their sleeves to spend their Spring Break doing manual labor under the hot, Long Island sun.
They’re giving back and helping healthcare hero Nickesha Medley.
“I was praying and praying because where I live right now, it’s not livable,” Nickesha told Currents News. “I live in the attic. There’s no hot water in the shower.”
The Christian woman’s prayers were answered when Habitat for Humanity picked her for a home. She’s a nurse’s aide who worked on the frontlines during the pandemic.
Xavier H.S. junior James Joyce and his fellow classmates are using their time off from school to build what Nickesha calls her “forever home.”
“It feels good to know that I’m helping someone to have a house,” James said.
The student-volunteers are offering much needed assistance since they’re the first school group back to help since the pandemic.
“We actually closed down for 6 weeks last year and we haven’t really had any other volunteer groups come out,” said Walter Mackey, who works for Habitat for Humanity.
Walter explained that they were stuck just using their staff to keep projects going. While they made it work, he said it’s nice to have the extra help.
He knows firsthand how important what they do is.
“I am a Habitat home owner,” Walter said.
He received his home in 1999 and shortly after, he got a job offer.
“I usually say, it’s like winning the lottery,” Walter said. “It’s just the relief of knowing where you’re going to put down roots for the rest of your life. Where your kids are going to be graduating school and where your life starts.”
Roots – just like the ones these students are helping to create for Nickesha and her daughter.
“I’m so grateful to those students because I mean, it’s their break,” said Nickesha. “Where a lot of kids would be home doing other things, they come and they help me – a total stranger. And they come and give me and my daughter a gift, a big gift.”
Xavier H.S. also helped out at this site back in February. For the Jesuit school students, it’s the perfect way to do God’s work.
“When we learn of Ignatius of Loyola and his teachings, he believes in work through service as well as St. Francis Xavier,” said Alexander Eriquez. “We see God. We find God in all things and service is one of those ways in which we can see God.”
Right now, they’re in the demolition phase of building, but this home should be ready for Nickesha and her daughter to move in by the end of the summer.
This isn’t just a free home. Nickesha has been putting in what they call “sweat equity” or volunteering her time for other projects.
She’s paying it forward – just like the Xavier H.S. students are doing for her.