For Joseph Sanfratello, “Enter to learn, leave to serve,” is a Lasallian motto you can say he lives by.

As a recipient of a scholarship in honor of Dennis Zilinksi II, Army 1st Lt., who was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2005, Sanfratello, a Christian Brothers Academy senior, is charged with running a service event each year that benefits the U.S. Military.

This academic year, he will have run two.

“I feel that we should show our respect and gratitude to our service men and women,” Sanfratello said. “Christian Brothers is very big on community service. It’s been instilled in me to help others.”

During his freshman year, Sanfratello began a sports equipment and toiletry drive for members of the military serving overseas. The goal is to collect new or used sports equipment that will give soldiers a way to relax and have fun while satisfying their need for personal items such as deodorant or toothpaste.

“The idea was that during their downtime, they could throw around a football or kick around a soccer ball to relieve stress,” Sanfratello said. “It’s a very stressful situation over there.”

Sanfratello hopes to see the fundraiser continue after he graduates, now that CBA Junior Thomas Vergiglione began co-sponsoring the event with him last year. Sanfratello and Vergiglione also recieve help from fellow members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), which Sanfratello joined as a freshman, and took over as president this year.

Sanfratello also took the lead on another benefit for U.S. troops, run by 2011 CBA Graduate Donald Evans, a project on which Sanfratello worked since his freshman year. The benefit is an annual Italian style pasta dinner, with the proceeds from the dinner going toward purchasing calling cards for the troops, allowing them to call home during the holidays to talk with families and loved ones.

Sanfratello is one of thirty senior leaders selected to participate in the Peer Ministry / GURU (Giving Us Religious Understanding) Program. Here, he is assigned two small groups of freshmen and is responsible for utilizing his training in group dynamics to facilitate meaningful learning discussions with those groups. He was selected on the basis of strength of character, Christian values, personality, and ability to serve as a strong role model for the freshmen.

Such a position demands the trust of the faculty and administration along with the skill to earn the trust of the freshmen. Peer Ministers are required to submit a verbatim at the end of each session as well as to plan the activities and facilitate the dynamics of the group.

“Joe’s selection for the program indicates that he is a man of strong interpersonal skills and ethical values with a positive sense of himself,” said Mr. Robert O’Connor, moderator for the Peer Ministry Program. “As part of his training, Joe is challenged to develop his leadership skills and to confront and challenge the freshmen, and himself, to further personal growth and awareness of the needs of others.”

Outside of CBA, the Matawan resident, along with his father, John, also helped found the The New Jersey Lightning, a Baseball team for the Blind, which is sponsored by the Association of Blind Athletes of New Jersey (ABANJ), a non-profit organization. To learn more about the Lightning BEEP Baseball team, click here for their facebook page.



Some information for this spotlight was adapted from:

Matawan Teen Shows Appreciation to U.S. Troops Through Community Service

By Chelsea Naso – Matawan-Aberdeen