Schlegel explained, “The kids get a reprieve from the violence in their lives. Coming to America is a vacation for them. It’s sad but that’s the way life is over there.” Last summer 17 youngsters visited with families in the Trenton area. “We find places for them to stay. My wife and I take in the adults. They learn from us; we learn from them.”
Schlegel recalls many great experiences the Irish kids have had while visiting America. One year, an executive from Yardville National Bank flew them to Atlanta to see the MLB All-Star game. “And we always go to Trenton Thunder for Irish Night in July. That’s a big night,” he said.
He still hears from some youngsters. “They let us know if they’re getting married. People who housed them get invited to the weddings. They appreciate what we did for them.”
Acknowledging that he is only one-quarter Irish – he is half Hungarian and another quarter German – Schlegel says, “That doesn’t make any difference anyway. Helping the kids out is my focus.”
To raise money for the program, Schlegel has assisted with various fund-raising events. “I arrange for bands to play free at functions.” With his encouragement, MCCC has been participating in the Trenton St. Patrick’s Day Parade since 1999. This year he was instrumental in establishing a new $1,000 MCCC scholarship, to be awarded annually to a recipient chosen by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Scholarship Committee.
Schlegel has also collected dry goods for St. Carmel Guild through Holy Cross Church in Trenton. His volunteer work has also benefited Angel’s Wings, which provides temporary shelter for homeless children, and Martin House, which works to improve the lives of low-income people through housing, education, clothing, and appliances.
from Jersey City, Schlegel moved to Trenton 30 years ago. He made a second
home at Mercer County Community College, where he was first a student,
graduating in 1973 with a degree in Humanities and Social Science, and
then earning a certificate in Refrigeration, Heating and Cooling in 1984.
He has been the college’s locksmith since 1987 and previously worked
in the facilities and maintenance department.
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