Teenage volunteers make most of A-K Valley's Week of Hope
More than 100 volunteers with Week of Hope left the Alle-Kiski Valley in a little better shape than they found it last week — making church improvements, entertaining the elderly and helping many in need.
The group was the seventh and final crew with the non-profit organization Group Cares, which runs the Week of Hope. The mission program brings volunteers from across the country to work together in areas of need.
It began in June with new volunteers coming in every Sunday and leaving each Friday. The last group arrived July 27 and left Friday.
The teen volunteers were hosted by The River — A Community Church in New Kensington. The church made improvements to allow the volunteers to stay there, building a kitchen and sleeping area. Volunteers served at places such as Belair Health & Rehabilitation Center, area churches, food banks and Habitat for Humanity.
“It's been great,” said Chris Dericks, coordinator with Group Cares. “They've been such a good host here at The River.”
For many, volunteering was a way to express their faith and help others.
Shannon Robinson, from Pasadena, Md., volunteered at the Belair nursing home in Lower Burrell, where she talked with residents, served doughnuts and played bingo.
“I love meeting new people,” said Robinson, 17. “I just like serving people and showing them what I see in this.”
Cynthia Fabian, 65, is a Belair patient. She said she looked forward to having the volunteers visit.
“I think it's nice that the kids want to come and help,” she said. “They're very polite and very helpful.”
Another patient, Fay Miller, agreed.
“It helps the day go faster,” said Miller, 75. “I enjoy it.”
A well-rounded trip
David Lectka, program leader, has worked with Week of Hope for five years. He leads the groups during a morning and night devotional time. He said the summer went well and enjoyed seeing the transition in first-time volunteers.
“By the end of the week, they don't want to leave,” he said. “It's been cool to see.”
The goal of the mission trips is to bring together two aspects of volunteering.
“We want to focus on a relational aspect, but also doing work experience,” Lectka said.
That's why locations are chosen where the volunteers get to have interaction with residents while doing some manual labor.
Jacob Cricks, from Canton, Ohio, had never participated in a mission trip like this.
“It's different,” said Cricks, 13. “I wanted to do this just to serve the Lord.”
Sue Squires, 43, volunteer and youth leader with her group, said it's important to do these trips to put life into perspective.
“Sometimes you get caught up in your own life and world,” said Squires, from Pasadena, Md. “You have to remember we're here to serve others.”
Happy to have volunteers
The Rev. Dean Ward, pastor at The River, was overjoyed to be hosting the volunteers for the first time.
“What they do lines up with our mission as a church to serve our community and make a difference in the region,” he said. “We could not be more thrilled with all that's happening.”
Aside from getting out in the community, volunteers have been putting in hours to improve the church as well, specifically its “Kids Closet,” which is stocked with items for a clothing exchange.
“They gave hours of help,” he said.
Olivia Merrow from West Branch, Mich., is one of those who helped with the closet.
“I like that we're doing stuff for people who need help and wouldn't have the time to do this,” said Merrow, 15.
She painted furniture and sorted clothes.
The work hasn't gone unappreciated by the organizations the volunteers helped out.
Jessica Levine, manager of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in New Kensington, said the volunteers provided a lot of help getting the store put together since it moved to its new location in May.
Volunteers helped organize items in the store, painted murals on the outside and went to Habitat sites to do home improvements.
“It's been really great getting to know all these kids,” she said.
Jordan Bell, from West Branch, Mich., said she enjoyed seeing Levine's reaction to the store's improvements.
“I really liked how happy she was to see the difference in her store,” said Bell, 15.
Krista Davis, from Pasadena, Md., said she is happy to be sending the clothes to those in need.
“I honestly think that the people who receive these are going to be totally blessed,” said Davis, 19.
Emily Balser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-7710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Puppy, pals come to rescue of Lower Burrell firefighters
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Police investigate reports bus driver allowed Fox Chapel students to change clothes
- Christmas parade gets warm welcome in Saxonburg
- South Butler students push composting as a way to slow food waste
- CNG station approved for Harmar
- Springdale Township neighbors at odds over drone
- Retirements help trim Arnold budget
- Push under way to help low-income Pa. residents cope with winter bills
- Cheswick super fan, 90, has had season tickets for almost 70 years
- ATI Steelworker cited for picket-line incident in Harrison pays fine