September 3, 2011

Lehigh Men Help in Irene's Aftermath

from press release

BETHLEHEM, Pa.
- The Lehigh men's lacrosse team made a difference in the local community on Wednesday by helping clean up Saucon Park in Bethlehem. The park had been devastated by Hurricane Irene, which came through the Lehigh Valley late Saturday into Sunday. The Mountain Hawks are always active in the local area, taking part in a community service project every Wednesday during the fall.

Lehigh's initial kickoff event is always with Bethlehem Parks and Recreation. Initially, the Mountain Hawks had another project scheduled for this Wednesday, but after the hurricane, Bethlehem Recreation Administrator Jane Persa asked if they could instead help with the restoration of Saucon Park, which they gladly did.

"When we went down [to Saucon Park] after the storm, the devastation down there was terrible," said Persa. "A lot of the damage was in the park where we had pavilions that we rent. Especially with this coming weekend being Labor Day weekend, they were all rented. It was very dangerous.

"Our intent was to make the park as safe as we could," she continued. "We figured we should redirect the lacrosse team to this project [from what was originally planned] because it would make a tremendous impact on the community. The team was happy to redirect."

The entire team, along with the coaching staff, performed a number of tasks to help clean the park. The squad split into three groups. One group shoveled dirt, the other pulled branches and picked up debris from the playground, while the third worked by the river.

"It was a multifaceted project and possibly one of the toughest we've ever had to tackle as a group," said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. "I was proud of the guys for working efficiently, working as a team and accomplishing the tasks that were presented. It was a valuable team building experience and as a Bethlehem resident, I couldn't be happier to lend a hand to wonderful people who make this community so special."

"It's pretty impressive to see what 50 guys can do together," said senior midfielder Roman Lao-Gosney. "We can help our community around us, help our fan base and give us an opportunity to come together as a team off the field."

The Mountain Haws' community impact is felt early and often. As part of their fall schedule, they come together as a team every Wednesday to help, whether it's a park, school or hospital. Moving forward this fall, the squad is set to work at the Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem, Lehigh Day Care Center, Donegan Elementary School (Reading Rocks Program) and Calyposo Elementary School (Homework Club), among others.

Persa, who has worked with Coach Cassese and the Mountain Hawks for five years now, is always extremely impressed with the team's work ethic and attitude.

"They're very willing to do whatever task you give them," she said. "One of the last things we asked them to help with yesterday was moving debris from against the bridge. It was getting close to 8:30 when we were supposed to finish, but they wanted to finish what they were doing rather than walk away. That made an impression on me; they were truly there to get the job done.

"They have a lot of respect for what they do and are sincere in their work," continued Persa. "They were even asking if they could stay all day."


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