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In this quote, Fr. Arrupe intended to convey that Loyola’s main objective is to educate students to be the kind of people who work for justice, even if it means setting aside their own wants and needs. One person in my life that works for justice for the least of her neighbors is Betty Whitney, an elderly lady who runs the tutoring center at my church. Actually, Betty is the one who started the tutoring center, and it has now helped more than 300 needy children. The children (who range from kindergarten to 5th grade students) often come from difficult family situations, and usually cannot find help with their schoolwork by consulting their parents.
Betty began the project about four years ago, when she retired after having worked as a teacher for 40 years. The tutoring center is funded only by donations and a small amount of the church’s money, and every tutor (myself included) is a volunteer. She was able to convince the church to let her use an old farmhouse on the property as the tutoring building, and started the center through an organization called Project Understanding. She and her husband renovated the building and set up the center, and then started recruiting volunteers from the church and community. She is still the full-time director of the tutoring center, serving there three afternoons per week, and is never paid for any of her work.
The kind of kids that are helped by the tutoring center are those who are struggling in school and unable to get help with their work at home. These children need some way to stay on the same track as the rest of the kids in their classes, and the tutoring center provides that way. Every child who attends works with a tutor in a 1-1 relationship so that all of their needs can be attended to and no questions are left unanswered. For example, I have two kids that I work with alone for an hour each and every week. All of the kids who utilize the center are very eager to learn, and are not doing poorly in school because of a lack of effort. Many come from homes where English is not spoken, and they simply need a way to be helped. The tutoring center is made up of people (like Betty) who just want to help, and who are truly working for justice for the least of those around them, individuals who could not possibly have something to offer in return.
Betty Whitney is the perfect example of someone who works purely for the justice of others, and not for herself. Fr. Pedro Arrupe said that the prime objective of Loyola should be to form people like Betty, and I sincerely hope to follow her example. Far too many people today work solely for their own benefit. If there were more people like Betty, who worked for the good of others without ever thinking of themselves, the world would certainly be a wonderfully improved place.
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