Several youth from Severna Park have spent part of their summers in the service of others. The teens, along with adult advisers from Severna Park churches, participated in mission trips to different areas on the East Coast.
As part of the WoodsWork outreach program, 120 youth and 40 adults from Woods Presbyterian Church traveled to Salem County, New Jersey, from June 20 to 28 to participate in Habitat for Humanity projects. Eligible participants ranged from rising sophomores in high school to recent graduates. Volunteers built three ranch-style homes next to each other for local families in need. Habitat for Humanity built the foundations, and the WoodsWork group built the wood framing and installed doors and windows.
Aaron Kent, a recent Severna Park High School graduate, was the youth chairman for the mission trip. It was his fourth year participating in a Habitat for Humanity project, and he described the heartwarming feeling he had when meeting the recipients of the new homes. During this year's trip, Kent met a baby from a family whose home the volunteers helped to build. “He just got a home,” Kent said with a glint in his eyes. “Knowing we could help these families start over in a good environment is rewarding.”
WoodsWork volunteers were housed in the gymnasium of a local high school, where they had access to the cafeteria to prepare meals. The group also gathered nightly at two nearby churches where they ended the day with evening programs that included music and faith building.
A group of 30 youth and adults from St. Martin's Episcopal Church caravanned to Lawrence County, Kentucky, to participate in an Appalachia Service Project from June 23 to 29. The Appalachia Service Project is a nonprofit organization with offices throughout the Appalachian region that coordinate home repairs and replacements for residents in need.
The team from Severna Park completed seven projects that were geared toward youth participation; for example, they installed an entryway deck for a family whose previous entry was only cinder blocks, replaced flooring in a home and replaced a roof for a Vietnam veteran who did not have the funds or ability to do the work himself.
Darin Parkison, parent volunteer on the trip, shared that while it was gratifying to help those who cannot help themselves, one purpose of the trip was to build relationships with people from different backgrounds. Volunteers became well acquainted with the homeowners and even ate lunch with them each day.
Parkison also noted it was rewarding to see the youth take pride in their accomplishments. “It was exciting to see the kids pick up on things and build confidence in themselves,” he said. “They started the week not knowing how to do something and by the end of the week became skillful.”
St. Martin's volunteers were lodged at a local middle school, while local families provided some meals. Parkison commented the residents of Lawrence County were the “warmest, kindest most gracious people” he has met, observing they were “generous where there is not a lot of abundance.”