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The NBC film crew captures footage at Banis Park in Worcester. Image by John Buckingham
Holy Cross Student Renovates Recreational Spaces at Home and Abroad

May 30, 2014 — A College of the Holy Cross senior making a difference in communities here and abroad was recently highlighted on “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.”  Jeffrey Reppucci (’14) has been renovating neighborhood recreational sites both locally in Worcester, Mass., and in Russia.

While studying in Russia during his sophomore year, Reppucci, 23, visited the village of Suzdal and was struck by the poor conditions at a local school and the lack of recreational spaces for children to play. “I had to find a way to help,” he said.

Upon returning to Holy Cross, Reppucci recruited his roommate, fellow Holy Cross senior Derek Kump, to start Students Helping Children Across Borders in their dorm room. The small nonprofit raised money for Suzdal from friends, family and corporate sponsors. Reppucci then returned to Russia for a month to work. “We built a playground at the school … worked with the community, and it just was a completely life-changing experience for me, a pivotal moment,” he said.

After returning to Massachusetts, Reppucci decided his success in Suzdal could be used to help transform neighborhoods around Worcester. He created a new project, Working for Worcester, which brought together students at Holy Cross and other neighboring colleges to focus on recreational spaces stateside, building playgrounds, basketball courts and dance studios for youth in their community. This year, more than 700 college students from 10 schools participated.

“The leadership team is pumped,” said Reppucci. “And the reason why we're pumped is because we have been able to recruit some wonderful freshmen and sophomores at Holy Cross, Clark, Assumption, other schools, who are not only here digging holes and want to be a part of the day, but who spent the last six months in this project with us in those late night meetings, crammed into the dorm rooms, really working through each step of this project.”

After raising more than $100,000 and renovating 20 community recreation sites in the U.S., Working for Worcester is expanding overseas. The organization launched a new empowerment and soccer program for girls at a school in Tanzania. Reppucci will visit the region at the end of the summer to start building the new field. He was also recently awarded the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award; was selected to deliver the Holy Cross Class of 2014 valedictory address; and has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina for the 2014-15 academic year. [NBC News, Holy Cross]

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