Joe Esposito, a 2010 graduate of Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School, was named a finalist for the San Damiano Servant Leadership Award. It is the first year for the award and Esposito finished second in the nation among those who were nominated.

Esposito was chosen as a finalist based on his dedication to helping others as a way of following God’s mission. The award is given to honor a dedicated, faithful, service-oriented young leader answering God’s call to “rebuild the Church.”

It is truly an honor to be chosen as a finalist by an organization that is dedicated to furthering the good work and model established by St. Francis of Assisi,” said Esposito in a release by Lourdes University, where he is majoring in accounting.

Esposito first became interested in helping the homeless during a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in March for Life. He noticed a homeless man with little clothing, shivering in the subzero temperatures. Once he returned to his heated home in Toledo, he realized how fortunate he was and decided to begin his ministry. He currently helps with Habitat for Humanity, feeding the hungry at soup kitchens and delivers meals to those in need.

“You learn that it’s more than giving your money or your belongings to people; you’re giving yourself,” said Esposito. “The give-and-take relationship benefits everyone. While it is important to connect with all people, individuals living in poverty with an illness or in any other state of inequity are in special need of these kinds of relationships.”

Moving forward, Esposito hopes to start a program that helps poverty stricken individuals find work experience though refurbishing neighborhoods.