Dedicated to Caring
March 30, 2017
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Traveling the world in hopes of giving both their time and physical experiences to people in need, two Cathedral Catholic High School sisters Ellie O’Hara ‘17 and Cassie O’Hara ‘16 share more in common than family genetics.
They also possess a passion for helping other people.
“The experiences that Project One members acquire from a variety of service acts provide a unique sense of fulfillment,” Cassie O’Hara said.
Project One, a CCHS club reaches out to disadvantaged communities in San Diego and around the globe, was founded by Cassie O’Hara. The three-year-old club’s mission is to promote student participation in service for different causes and to learn more about poverty throughout the world.
To continue her sister’s legacy and commitment to service, Ellie O’Hara assumed the leadership role and enlisted fellow CCHS classmate Kate Bieraugel ‘17 as a co-leader. The two students actively increase awareness of the club to recruit more members.
“The more members we recruit, the greater impact we will have which will enable us to help more people,” Bieraugel said. “The primary objective of Project One is to provide service to those [people] most in need, whether it is downtown San Diego at Father Joe’s Village or in other countries. We do not focus our efforts on a single geographical region.
“If there is a need for help, we will do our best to reach out.”
To carry out Project One’s mission, Ellie O’Hara and Bieraugel obtain “wish lists” from various charitable organizations. Then, club members purchase or gather donated items to create care packages that are specific to each charity and its current needs.
Care packages include toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, insulated foods, soap, christmas presents, cooking utensils, and school supplies. By gathering these items, the students realize these are basics, but for many, these are luxuries.
“We are aware that giving care packages does not completely change people’s lives or current situation, but perhaps it is comforting to know that people care about them,” Ellie O’Hara said. “It may help them get back on their feet and possibly inspire them to move forward.
“Our goal is to create hope.”
In addition to care packages, Project One also provides different types of donations, which help a variety of organizations to continue thriving. These donations are packaged together with donations from other clubs and schools to be used to gather larger, more critical items.
Project One donates to organizations such as Rady’s Children’s Hospital and Father Joe’s Village on a regular basis.
“Community service and charitable experience can be a very humbling experience,” Cassie O’Hara said. “This type of fulfillment is hard to gain from other high school experiences.”
Since the club’s formation, one of Ellie O’Hara’s favorite memories is the club’s Haitian mission trip.
“When we traveled to Haiti, we volunteered at an orphanage called Pwoje Espwa,” Ellie O’Hara said. “This was the first time we had witnessed the families’ reactions to the care packages, and it was a sight I will never forget. Regardless of their age, whether they were five or 45, they were all so grateful.
“This is when I truly felt the act of fulfillment.”
A life lesson club members take away from being a part of Project One is an awareness of the endless amounts of people living in completely different conditions than their own. Ellie O’Hara and Bieraugel hope this awareness encourages other students to participate.
“By bringing together others who are passionate about helping, Project One can help to make the world into what it should be: a world where nobody is hungry, thirsty, where nobody has to go without clothes or shelter but with a community where they all help one another,” Ellie O’Hara said.