Welcome to the Billy Joel Fan Club

Welcome to the Billy Joel Fan Club

I have very distinct memories of being back home during my high school days, driving my sister to school every morning. Normally, we would be too tired to talk in the early morning but have plenty of jokes to share on the ride home. In the present day, the days begin and end very similarly. Meg drives me to St. Augustine’s School on her way to Lawrence Catholic Academy. Neither of us being morning people, the time is usually spent flipping through the radio stations in an attempt to find some songs that will pump us up for a day of teaching. However, the drive back is always filled will lots of joking and, sometimes, much needed venting about our days. When we finally do get home, Gina is waiting for us with Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” queued up, as is our daily ritual. Then, depending on the day, one of us gets to cook dinner for the others.

It is probably no surprise that one of my favorite parts of the day is dinner. Although, as much as I like eating, I have found that I very much enjoy cooking. Before starting my year of service, I didn’t spend much time cooking for others. But getting to prepare meals for people that I care about has been very rewarding, and I believe my community members feel the same way. It is another small way that I can serve that brings us closer together.

A few weeks ago, the cities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover were struck with a sudden tragedy. Nearly seventy homes and families were affected by explosions and fires caused by issues with the towns’ gas system. We heard the news while stuck in traffic on one of our seemingly normal drives home and witnessed many police and fireman helping locals turn off their gas, ensuring their safety. In the weeks following the disaster, I was given another lesson about community from the people living all around us. While some homes would be without gas for the foreseeable future, teachers at my school offered to let their neighbors use their homes when in need of a hot shower or a home-cooked meal. The St. Augustine’s Church even continues to hold a second collection specifically for those still affected by the ordeal. All these selfless acts perfectly show the value of community. When someone is in need, it is up to each of us to serve in any way we can. Whether it is the necessary simple act of driving a roommate to work, helping each other relax with a fun sing along after a long day, or looking out for your neighbors in a difficult time, community is an opportunity to give what we can and grow together.

Hank Niemerg

Lawrence, MA 2018-2019

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