Student Life
Refining Their Talents

Making an IMPACT

By: Peter Jeensalute
The IMPACT program at Crespi Carmelite High School continues to be an important service experience for the school community. In its seventh year of implementation, Crespi’s IMPACT program is an important means for young men to experience the Carmelite Charism in action.
Crespi’s Campus Minister, Chris Knabenshue, implemented a program that emphasizes the value of service instead of the accumulation of hours. This leads to a deeper appreciation by students as they work as a class on various service needs. That communal tie is an essential link to the Carmelite Charism and provides classroom
opportunities to reflect and build upon their experiences.

IMPACT is a one-week service program that allows students and teachers to experience the Carmelite spirit in the city of Los Angeles, by centering on three themes: environment, affliction, and poverty. “Carmelite Men are called to walk in the footsteps of Christ,” said Bro. John Sprissler, O. Carm. “The evangelization of the students begins with the IMPACT program, where they develop an awareness of God’s creations, recognition of the marginalized in the world, and respect for those living in poverty. The whole brings the students from selfcenteredness to generosity of their fellow brothers with the culmination of the highly successful and wellestablished Kairos retreat program for seniors.”

In January, the Class of 2017 had the opportunity to assist with the LA Food Bank, a Los Angeles based nonprofit that mobilizes resources to fight hunger in the community. Through the efforts of our Crespi Celts, 50,000 lbs. of food was prepared, which would serve over 8,000 meals to those in need in the community. Crespi has even had an opportunity to work alongside fellow Carmelite school Saint Raphael Elementary in Los Angeles, donating playground toys and interacting with students throughout the classroom and during recess.
The unique approach of the program allows students to enter into a more personal and deep experience with others, while remaining cohesive and holistic in its nature because of the progressive growth in the themes. Many organizations have benefitted from the Celts outreach, whether through environmental causes with the SEA Lab and Heal the Bay, senior advocacy with local retirement homes such as New Horizons, or relief
program with Union Rescue Mission and Fred Jordan Mission.

Since its inception, the program has resulted in a great boomerang effect for the boys. Some have had such a profound and deep experience that they choose to participate outside of the program. “I would have to say, that overall, it has allowed us to see a development of a heart of compassion in our students to a degree much larger
than the service hour mentality,” stated Knabenshue.

The program has spread to Salpointe Catholic High School in Tuscon, Arizona and Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, Illinois, taking a new direction in both communities. "I am so proud of Salpointe Catholic's IMPACT service learning program,” said Kay Sullivan, President of Salpointe Catholic. Originally based on Crespi's program, Salpointe's IMPACT program is fundamentally 'faith in action.' The program provides the opportunity for 1100 students, ages 14 to 18, to make an essential impact by their presence in the lives of others. Themes for this year are hunger, creation, vulnerability and justice. Our hope is that our Lancer students will be so touched by the men and women they serve that their passion to serve others will become a lifelong commitment."

"One of the major differences between IMPACT and our former process--do service on your own and turn in the paperwork--is that students look forward to doing service with their friends during the IMPACT weeks,” said Mount Carmel President, Fr. Tony Mazurkiewicz, O. Carm. “When asked if they would prefer doing service another way, our students unanimously say no. They may come back tired from placements, but they always have a smile on their faces. IMPACT has made the amount of service done by our students much more visible both within the school community and beyond. We have had some of our service placements suggest us to other groups/agencies; our list of placements has grown steadily over the past two years. The IMPACT Week model is
the best I have seen for making service an integral part of the high school experience."