“I would say that without immersing yourself in your community, you can’t really grow up,” says Liam Fitzgerald, a junior a Jesuit High School.
Last year, Fitzgerald and a few of his classmates noticed the lack of a Social Justice organization at Jesuit. The group came together and modeled The Jesuit Community Action Project (J-CAP) after the Loyola University Community Action Project. The club is dedicated to raising awareness and educating its members about pressing social issues in and around New Orleans. J-CAP focuses on different issues each month by educating students, participating in a service project and discussing what was learned from both educational and action-based standpoints.
Fitzgerald says that he has to thank his parents, Tom Fitzgerald and Mary Baudouin, for his interest in being an activist. He adds that they raised their children in an environment where social change and equality are of the utmost importance. “All three of us – my brother, my sister and I – have devoted ourselves to the community and to making the world just a bit easier for others. My parents have taught us that we can’t just stand idle when unjust things are occurring in society.”
The Harry Tompson Center is an organization that’s dear to the entire Fitzgerald family – his mother is on the board and his sister, Claire Fitzgerald, has also volunteered for over four years.
During his first summer at The Harry Tompson Center, Fitzgerald made friends with one of the patrons – an extremely friendly homeless man who just wanted to engage in conversation. The next summer, he had mixed emotions seeing the patron again; Fitzgerald was happy to see a face that he recognized, but upset to see that his friend was still on the streets. In January, J-CAP held a service project at the center and Fitzgerald’s patron showed up again. This time was different, the man told him that he was working at the grocery store and was able to get an apartment through a New Orleans housing program. The only reason why the patron was at the center was to tell Fitzgerald “Hi.”
Fitzgerald is a part of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission Teen Council and is also very involved in many groups and organizations at Jesuit, including Cross Country and Track, National Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society and Mu Alpha Theta. He hopes to become a social worker and volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or the Peace Corps as a complement to his activism.