Mission project takes local teens to N.Y. to help the community
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS People's E.C. Church mission team formed to help a community in Newark, N.Y. includes, front from left, Sharon Rabuck, Sarah Kistler, Hannah Bartron, Abigail Bartron, Cera Gaston; back the Rev. Kenneth Ogden, Blade McCabe, Paul VanOsten, Hunter McCabe and Doug Bowman. Also taking part in the mission trip were Jon Smith and Dylan Bowman.
A call for help from Newark, N.Y., a small town near Lake Ontario, gave the People's E.C. Church mission team an opportunity to help those in need.
The team, comprised of nine teenagers and four adult team leaders, took on several projects while working together with other mission groups from July 21 to July 26 while they were in New York.
The Rev. Ken Ogden, pastor, was one of the team leaders. He said the group from People's Church was under the umbrella of Group Work Camps.
GWC sets up the mission projects and invites groups to help. Ogden said that most of the mission groups come from churches.
"It was an opportunity for us to serve the community in a different way," said Ogden.
For the teenagers, it gave them a feeling of accomplishment.
"GWC pays for the materials we needed," said Ogden. "We had to raise funds to pay the costs that are used mostly for transportation."
Projects included working on a farm, helping pack up an evicted person from her apartment and helping relocate her into another apartment, feeding hungry children through a lunch program, working at a nursing home, helping out at a victim's resource center and building a ramp for a handicapped person.
While in New York, the team slept on air mattresses that they brought with them and showered in nearby schools.
"My son and I worked building a wheelchair ramp," said Doug Bowman, one of the team leaders.
The trip cost approximately $300 per person to participate in the mission project. Money was raised through a spaghetti dinner, candy bar sale and other fundraisers, plus donations from the church.
The participants and their belongings rode to New York in a 15-passenger van, which allowed very few personal items for the week other than a few changes of clothing and an air mattress.
For the teens who participated, it was a learning experience.
"I worked on a farm," said Cera Gaston. "I have a much greater respect for my dad. I learned that you have to work long days. You just have to do it."
Hunter McCabe worked at the victim's resource center. He said he spent time with the children of past participants who were being relocated.
Abigail Bartron worked placing mulch down in a garden at the nursing home, while Blade McCabe helped serve lunch to children who otherwise might not have had that meal.
"I saw that one girl ate three or four sandwiches," said McCabe.
The group leaders didn't stay with youngsters from People's, but were assigned to work with youngsters from several other locations.
"We team leaders worked at three different locations throughout the day," said the Rev. Ogden. "In the morning, I worked in the cafeteria, which was set up to feed the volunteers."
Ogden said that the free lunch program that was part of the mission was set up in a church and is a continuation of the free lunch program at schools, where the government provides the food, but a system must be set up to serve the food during the summer months.
Sharon Rabuck, an adult leader, said that after the gardening work was completed, she and Abigail went inside and met with the residents and played games with them.
"While we were at the nursing home, we delivered a birthday card to one lady," said Sara Kistler.
"She had no family or visitors and she started crying when she realized we were giving her a birthday card. She was so emotional that we became emotional and started crying too."
The Rev. Ogden said this mission was the fifth mission undertaken by the church.
"We would like to do something similar to this next year, but would like to keep it local, possibly in the Lehighton area," said the Rev. Ogden. "We would also like to do a mission in a few years in Nashville or the Dominican Republic."
Hannah Bartron had an emotional experience when she helped pack up a woman who was being evicted from her apartment.
"She was a hoarder and had lived in the apartment for 18 years, so there was a lot of stuff," said Bartron. "It was very emotional and very hard for her to move."
Bowman said that he and his son helped build a wheelchair ramp for a family.
"The family paid part of the costs for the ramp and GWC paid part of the costs," said Bowman.
"It was incredible to watch the kids work together," said Ogden. "The teenagers came from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and to see how well they worked together was amazing."
Paul VanOsten, the fourth team leader, said, "It was neat to see how fast the teens mixed together to build bonds and make the most of their commitment to the help the community."