The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 8, 2000 Issue
Local News

Bay Shore, Appleton teen make a dream come true

The group works on a clinic and repairs roofs in Kentucky Appalachian area


By Fr. Richard Klingeisen

Teenagers from Manitowoc, Two Rivers, Sturgeon Bay, Algoma and Appleton this summer helped make a dream come true in the Appalachian community of David, Ky.

Although they were not able to complete the project, they contributed in an important way by completing the installation of the ceiling, the placement of fluorescent light fixtures, a subfloor and drywalling.

Sr. Kathleen Weigand, OSB, director of St. Vincent Mission in David, was moved to tears to see how much was accomplished on the clinic. She hopes that the clinic will be ready to receive patients by the end of September.

For two weeks, nine teenagers and three adults worked on this project and on repairing the roof of a nearby house.

The roofing job required extra effort because there were six layers of shingles on the roof. One can only guess at the thousands of roofing nails that needed to be removed. However, after six days, the project was satisfactorily completed to the delight of the teenagers and the house owners. Another group then came to paint the house.

What did the teens think of these projects? Here is a sampling of their responses, which indicate how well this group got along and how they enjoyed the experience:

-- "All were fun to work on."

-- "Helped me to overcome fears and I learned new skills."

-- "It was so nice to wake up in the morning and be in pain because of the work."

-- "It didn't feel like work by working together with a bunch of friends."

-- "Working together, getting hot and sweaty bound the group together."

In addition to the work there were many other opportunities to learn and experience new things, new people, a new lifestyle. The sights and sounds of the Appalachian Mountains had their way of speaking to the participants.

"The mountains put me in my place. I didn't realize how big the mountains are," said Cathy Sonnleitner.

Sara Naidl said she enjoyed the endless gorgeous views, which made her feel alive.

For Ann Detjen, it was the noises of the night, which included various insects, tree frogs, toads, horses, dogs and the sound of a running brook.

The people of Appalachia also endeared themselves to the teens. Brad Luedtke said the people were very grateful. Jenny Francl said the kids welcomed you as a friend right away, sometimes with hugs and kisses.

Laura Censky said the people of Appalachia she met don't seem as shallow, they have less inhibitions and are less material than some people she has met. "Their real personalities seem to shine through."

And Carrie Kacourek noted that the children always looked out for each other.

After the first day of getting adjusted to their new environment with its limited space, outdoor shower, outdoor outhouse and a change in lifestyle because of no telephones, televisions and radios, the participants became more creative in the way they shared their time and energy. It was a new way of life that invited the 12-member group to grow together in interesting ways.

Mario Balestrieri said he saw the community grow through the ways they helped each other. Derek Nellis noted that there were no conflicts even though they lived within small confines. Andy Czechanski told the group that he could live with them forever. And Don Pagel, a senior staffer, said, "If someone did irritate some one by a certain act, they looked beyond the person to the act. Often one does not see that."

There was definitely a closeness in the group. Sara Naidl said she knew some of them better than her friends back home. And Laura Censky was impressed with the group dynamic: "They are my friends, like brothers and sisters."

As a seasoned leader of the Diocesan Appalachian Outreach Program, I am very grateful to every one of the teens. They contributed much in service to the people of Appalachia, to St. Vincent Mission and to each other. Their lives were affected in many positive ways. Now they have some precious memories of positive experiences as they move through life as young Christians.



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