PADS 6They go about it quietly, but every Thursday morning at 6 a.m., a group of six to eight Saint Viator students show up to do the dirty work at a PADS site at the Presbyterian Church of Palatine: They clean up.

“It’s a huge piece of this ministry,” says Anita Kern, one of the site directors. “Last night, we had 43 guests and these teens came in and disinfected all the mattresses, bundled all the linens and carried them upstairs and cleaned the floors.”

PADS 5“I don’t know if we’d have to close the site without them,” she adds, “but we’d have a hard time finding so many people to come and do what they do.”

Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, made the initial connection between Saint Viator students and the Palatine church and he still comes every other week to chaperone, but those original students have graduated and now others have stepped forward.

Jake Wolf ’18 concedes he came grudgingly, when his older brother, Sam ’16, told him to come and complete his required service hours for the marginalized. Once he started seeing families with young children come to the shelter, and even high school students, he knew his work was valuable.

PADS 2“Over time, it grew on me so much,” says Jake, a regional champ in wrestling. “I know where I am in life. I consider it a blessing and a privilege to be able to do this.”

His enthusiasm and leadership have drawn his classmates to join him, so much so that the church has had to limit how many students show up.

“The Viatorians have taught us that our service is meaningful and that we’re called to serve people around us,” adds Anthony Maraviglia, who just committed to playing football at Johns Hopkins University next fall.

PADS 5Caitlin Kenney ’18, Dan Dababneh ’18 and Robbie Baxendale ’19 call themselves the “Pillow Crew.” They not only strip the pillowcases off, but they disinfect the plastic-lined pillows and then stack them above the pads.

“I’m always afraid they’re going to fall down,” Robbie concedes. “But we’ve got it down now. It’s become our weekly routine and you get this great feeling when you leave. It would feel weird not to go.”

PADS 1All of the teens admitted that getting up so early every week took some adjusting, but now they look forward to it.

“It’s crazy to think that by getting up just one hour earlier that we could affect people’s lives,” Caitlin says. “But then I know that this is something I can do. I might not be able to stop all the terrible things in the world, but this I can do.”