Texas teens put community service into their summer
For release: July 23, 2009
Teenagers from a Texas church knew they had gone to the right mission field when children there talked about friends in their neighborhood who had been shot. It seemed like a world away from home, but it was just across the state line.
About 30 youth and adults from First Christian Church in Garland, Texas, partnered with Community Renewal one week in July to serve residents and the two Friendship Houses in the Barksdale Annex neighborhood in Bossier City.
"I feel like we are making a difference here and that makes me feel good," said Dancey Caldwell, 13. "The physical work makes it look better, but these kids need more positive role models. They need to know they have a chance."
Often working under a hot sun and cloudless sky, the teens and their adult sponsors planted flowers, painted, cleaned up the KaBoom playground and even turned an old wheelchair ramp into a new doghouse. They also helped with Vacation Bible School in the afternoons.
"This is an awesome group and the neighborhood is very happy," said Community Coordinator Manuela Standard, who works out of the newest Friendship House there. "This was a great week for our neighborhood. It was a job well done."
Youth pastor Rebecca Anderson said the project brought renewal not only to the neighbors, but to her youth as well.
"I want them to understand a loving relationship is the key. The physical work helps, but if you build a relationship and work side by side, it lasts much longer," she said.
Jacki Merucci, 16, says the trip helped her as much as it did the neighborhood.
"It's exciting to see how thankful they are no matter how little or how much we do. They tell us we are making a difference in their lives and that makes me want to do more," she said.