A sea of blue and gold descended upon St. Andrew Catholic Community right before the 2018 Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium. The Notre Dame Club of Greater Orlando called the parish and school to ask if they had any beautification projects that needed to be done and the staff eagerly said ‘yes!”
Pastor Leo Hodges and Principal Latrina Peters-Gipson toured the property with a representative from the ND club. They submitted their repair list to the Notre Dame Alumni Association service committee and the response was tremendous. More than 50 alumni and friends showed up on campus Dec. 30 to paint the cafeteria, ceilings, and doors- many of them suited up in their ‘Fighting Irish’ athletic gear.
“Many volunteers finished their areas in record time before their three hours were up and willingly asked what else they could do,” shared Peters-Gipson. The teams scrubbed down all the desks in the computer lab and even cleaned out a shed near the Parish offices. The teamwork clearly echoed one of the core beliefs at St. Andrew Catholic School – ‘we serve God by serving others.’
Brothers Chris and Mike Tessitore were excited to assist. Both men attended St. Andrew when they were little. Both went on to enroll at Notre Dame University and today both are attorneys. “St. Andrew was instrumental in formation for both of us as lifelong Catholics which led to us attending our dream school Notre Dame,” said Chris. Mike loved the moments spent wandering the halls with his brother. “A stream of memories came flashing back as I walked the campus,” he laughed. “Everything seemed a lot smaller than I remembered. It felt like being home.”
Today, the brothers are now fathers who sent their children to Catholic school to follow in their footsteps. Mike calls his faith critical to being a proper role model. “It’s good to have that foundation- the Catholic education foundation to fall back on when you need it,” he said. “As you get older, you rely on it more.” Chris agrees saying they ‘jumped at the opportunity to give back.’
When St. Andrew students returned from winter break Jan. 3 many of them beamed and exclaimed how much they loved the new look. Ellie Kuhns, club program director for the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association, is proud of the results. “It was a pleasure and an honor to work with Mrs. Peters-Gipson and the staff at St. Andrew School,” she shared. “ND alumni and fans from outside the state came ready to make a difference.”
By Jennifer Drow, special to the Florida Catholic – January 17, 2018