On June 20, Boyne Valley Catholic Community Youth Ministry and St. Mary of the Woods Youth Ministry (Kalkaska) joined forces to help Otsego County Habitat for Humanity fulfill their mission of helping people live with dignity.
Each year, the youth and youth ministers search for an experience that will ingrain in them more deeply the call to service and discipleship that comes from the Lord.
“I had such a good time getting to know the homeowners and being able to see the hope in their eyes that we brought by being there and helping them in any way that we could,” said Veronica Johnson, a recent Boyne City High School graduate.
To live as Christ did commands that we are a people of service. One of the eight components of youth ministry is justice and service.
The youth ministry programs have made a commitment to engage in this component as much as possible and volunteering to help Habitat for Humanity is just one of many.
But after reflecting on the week, the group did much more than help various families; they walked away from this experience with a deeper understanding of human rights and the dignity of each person made in the image of God.
“The second we walked up to the job site, we knew that our hands would be put to good use,” said Boyne City High School senior Emma Vondra.
“All of us in our group raked, bagged, mowed lawns, painted, scrubbed, washed, and I believe most importantly listened.”
She added, “I firmly believe that open ears helped the home owner as equally as the house transformation did. Our week of service is something that opened by eyes and changed my life.”
The group did a wide variety of tasks at various work sites.
They worked with a Habitat program called “A Brush of Kindness.” This program works with residents who need help with a variety of task at their homes.
The youth painted, scraped, assisted with repairing windows and hanging doors, cleaned up yards, cut lawns, weeded gardens, painted and hung shutters, and a variety of other tasks.
It was amazing to see how much work was accomplished by this group of dedicated young people.
The great thing about this entire experience is that the youth rarely complained; they had a job to do and were determined to get it done.
They spoke often about giving hope to people who lives seemed very hard and limited.
The group stayed at the Lake Louise Retreat center when they were not at the work site. During the evening, they were involved in justice and peace programming and prayer time. The programming dealt with looking at the issues of injustice that affect people in our world today.
They also spend time looking at what they can do about these issues and how they are called to live as disciples.
At the conclusion of the week, the youth on team shared some of their thoughts on the service experience.