While most teens were enjoying their freedom this July, three groups put themselves to work helping less fortunate communities.
Youth groups from St Matthew’s and St Anne’s churches, Pilgrim Church, and St. Mark’s Church traveled to Mississippi, Chicago and Vermont to complete their missions.
The group leaders were proud (deservedly so) to share their group’s accomplishments in more detail than I can include. But here are the highlights:
St. Matthew Parrish and St. Anne Parrish
49 teens and 8 adults traveled to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi for the Youth Ministry’s10th mission trip since Hurricane Katrina.
What started out as hurricane relief in 2006 has continued as mission work amongst the very poor and needy in rural MS. Project Hope and Compassion (a ministry of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Gulfport) houses the group each year.
Karen Fournier, of St. Matthew’s Youth Ministry, shared:
We assisted many of the poor and needy in the area by working on such tasks as painting, repairing & landscaping a family’s trailer and yard. We also demolished a bedroom which had floated into someone’s side yard during the hurricane and had been sitting there ever since.
Additionally, we landscaped, cleaned and organized yards and under and around the homes of several elderly people. We painted one fence and repaired another and also had a group working at a local soup kitchen daily.
The trip gives the youth of St. Matthew and St. Anne the opportunity to truly live their faith each day. It was an amazing experience for those who attended!
Pilgrim Congregational Church
46 teenagers and 11 chaperones traveled to Chicago for this summer’s senior high mission trip.
Pilgrim Church Youth Group rehabilitated a home to house volunteers for a Chicago non-for-profit called Episcopal Group Julian Year. The Julian Year volunteers who will live there will work for local churches in order to better the community, help gang members, and take care of children. The group estimates that PCYG’s volunteers saved them $10,000, which they can now put back into the communities.
And that was just one of their projects. Program Director Sarah Hile shared:
We nurtured under served children in their volunteer run summer program. We painted in the homes of the elderly through the organization HOME. . .
Our teens are truly amazing. They work so hard. They care so much. They change the lives of those they serve as well as simultaneously changing their own.
I am so excited to see what they are capable of and to watch them turn into the incredible leaders they are all becoming. What they learn on these service trips is just the beginning. Their eyes are open and they are hungry to make a difference. I am blessed and grateful to be a small part of the process that makes them into the wonderful people they become.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
9 teens and 3 adult leaders traveled to Rutland, Vermont. Youth ranged in age from middle school to high school students. It was their first mission.
The teens raised money to cover the cost of the trip through bake sales, a parents’ night out event for kids, and a Christmas Bazaar. The trip was run by a non-profit organization called Youth works.
Students were split up into work groups and partnered with students from other youth groups across the country, while also having a few team members from their own church.
One team from St. Mark’s spent two grueling days helping to prepare a new mountain bike trail. They also led a free kids’ camp and visited the elderly at a nursing home.
The second team spent two days scraping, priming and repainting a run-down home. They also served meals and helped with the thrift shop for an outreach program for homeless veterans.
Chaperone Melissa LaBelle shared:
This trip was a wonderful way to bond as a group, learn to put the needs of others first, and step out of our comfort zone. The exhausting heat and humidity gave us reason to develop perseverance, patience, and teamwork in a way that a relaxing vacation or retreat would not have done. It was also an excellent chance for teens and leaders to develop a deeper understanding of who God is and how the Christian faith relates to real life. The mission trip equipped us with a sense of why it is so important to reach out to others and show love through actions, not just in words.
Megan Romine, an eighth grade volunteer reflected:
The mission trip to Rutland was not at all what I expected. I thought we’d be doing some community service and leave unchanged. I was wrong. The mission trip brought me closer to the Rutland community, the other churches, the youth in my church, and closer to God. I will never forget that week.
And senior Ben Romine said:
Seeing everyone work so hard for so long really inspired me to do well on this trip. Everyone seemed to be having a good time too, and I think that was as contagious as the persistence, and that’s what really made the trip meaningful to me. Participating in an event like this is usually a life-changing experience, and I can safely say that seeing the way God worked in others helped me to be a happier and a more hardworking person.