Last summer, three members of the Class of 1973 started discussing the idea of a class gift to coincide with their upcoming 45th Reunion.
“Many classes do something with their 50th,” said Jim Torney '73, “but we said, the school has needs now. Why wait?”
The trio, which also included John Bianchi and Dave Connolly, tossed around several different ideas, before eventually meeting with SJR President Barry Donnelly to discuss the school’s needs.
“Several good ideas were discussed, and we decided that a van that could be used by various clubs and organizations would benefit all,” said Connolly. “It would also be an asset to the volunteer service programs at SJR."
In fact, this summer, the school hosted three such trips, and the students who participated foot the bill for room, board and transportation.
“We were struck by the fact that some students could not participate in the outreach programs to Boston and Appalachia due to the cost,” added Bianchi. “The van would allow more Green Knights to experience the life-changing campus ministry programs that might otherwise be out of reach.”
Once the decision was made, the trio generated hand-written letters to all of their classmates, seeking their support for the project with donations and pledges over a three-year span. Their appeal resulted in more than twenty donations or pledges, and a commitment of $28,000 to date.
“We still have a little ways to go,” said Connolly, since the van itself is expected to cost about $30,000. “And then there is maintenance, insurance and a few modifications that need to be in place for the van to be certified as a school vehicle by the state of New Jersey.”
That said, SJR expects to have the van on the road by 2019 so that it will be in place to serve the spring sports season and, of course, next year’s summer service projects.
“From my perspective, one of the best benefits has been the fact that our class really stepped up to make this possible,” said Connolly. “There are tangible benefits for the school, of course, but it’s also the spiritual good feeling that my classmates have shown when the cause is so much greater than any one of us. We have truly become “faithful men” to SJR."