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Keeping Faith

Abby Jelavich’s grandmother wanted to come to sports events at her granddaughter’s school but was kept away by lack of handicapped-accessible parking. So Jelavich, 13, set about to remedy the situation.

Through the school’s Public Achievement program, Jelavich brought a proposal for handicapped parking to the parish council of St. Gregory Babarigo Parish in Maryville, Mo., where she is a parishioner and an eighth-grade student at the parish school. The project was approved, and funds were donated by the Parent-Teacher Organization.

“You don’t need an earth-changing idea,” Jelavich said. “Just look around and see what you can do.”

Don Sly had a reliable 1977 Toyota pickup he wanted to donate to a community development organization in El Salvador, and he took it there himself on a 5,000-mile drive from Seattle to San Salvador.

“I just drove it because there was no other way to get it there,” he said. “There was not enough money to ship it. I didn’t realize how far away it was when I volunteered to drive it!”

Sly, 54, loaded up the truck with medical and school supplies, computers, bicycles, clothes and toys that had been donated to the Institute for Technology, Environment and Self-Sufficiency. He left Aug. 1, 1998, and arrived Aug. 9. He stayed a week in El Salvador, to see the work of the institute, which was founded by his friend Jose Alas, a former priest from El Salvador.

Peter Reynolds’ media company, FableVision, has a mission to tell “stories that matter.” With a mix of storytelling, art and animation, Reynolds, 37, has brought this mission to schools, scouting groups and religious education classes.

One of those stories, “The North Star,” is “designed to help kids and grown-up kids be more reflective and thoughtful about their journey, to take the time to pause and look up and be inspired,” said Reynolds, who is a parishioner at St. Susanna Church in Dedham, Mass.

Most of the educational presentations Reynolds makes are “done purely as a mission,” he said. They are funded by work for public television and educational publications. “Even the things we do for money are things that matter to us,” he said.

Send suggestions for Keeping Faith to Teresa Malcolm at NCR. Her E-mail address is tmalcolm@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, March 5, 1999