The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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September 15, 2000 Issue
Local News

Coleman-Klondike youth help those in need

HEART camp week in New Orleans includes painting, child care

By Mary Bittner

Fifteen youths and five adults from Ss. Francis & Wenceslaus Parish in Coleman and Klondike joined 350 youth from across the nation to take part in the Catholic HEART (Helping Everyone Attain Repairs Today) Workcamp in New Orleans. They worked with various agencies to help low-income families, children and elderly.

All workcampers were organized into teams of five or six young people and one or two adult leaders from different parts of the country. They painted, did yard work, restored historic cemeteries, and helped at daycare centers and nursing homes.

In the evening they took part in faith and fun projects involving music, singing, prayer, videos, motivational presentations, skits and laughter. The Ss. Francis & Wenceslaus youth presented a skit, "At Home with Missions." More than 4,500 youth worked in similar HEART camps across the U.S.

The group from Ss. Francis & Wenceslaus Parish shared the costs of a coach bus with Guardian Angels Parish of Oakdale, Minnesota. These two groups planned cooperatively together for many months for this mission trip. The benefits of making new friends and a common bond among them definitely outweighed the long bus ride.

The trip for the Coleman-Klondike youth was made possible through a $2,500 grant from the M&M Community Foundation, private donations and various fund-raisers. Those who made the trip were: Dan Auer, Tim Bittner, Tyler Blackbourn, Meaghan Gleason, Jon Gosa, Matt Kuchta, Lindsey Kust, Joanna Lipinski, Domini Marthaler, Ashley Nowak, Brandon Pendl, Seth Schounard, Cory Stillings, Donna Urbanek and Shalyn Vaderbloemen. Adult leaders were Mary Bittner, Mary Anne Kust, Connie Marthaler, Marilu and Paul Stilling.

Here are some of their thoughts about the HEART Workcamp:

"My group spent our first day painting indoors for an elderly couple. We only spent a short time talking with Mable, but you could tell how much those minutes meant. She gave each of us a thank you card and a smile. I felt kind of bad when we had to move on to our next site. At our second site, we joined with another group. It was pretty amazing how well we meshed together as we painted the entire outside of the house. I feel I saw Christ in the way we all worked together. We almost didn't finish. Yet we stayed late to complete the painting. I think going the extra mile to finish a job is what a servant is." --Meaghan Gleason

"We worked with an elderly man and his wife to paint his garage and house. I think it was amazing how much he appreciated what we were doing for them. On the last day of work, we found out that it had been his wife's birthday two days earlier. So we bought a birthday and thank you card, a box of chocolates, with $20 in the card to help pay for the wonderful food he made us everyday. Even though he tried to hold it back, I could see a tear of gratitude in his eye when we left. I saw God in that tear." --Donna Urbanek

"I worked in a daycare which was great The kids were so happy to see all of us. They were so easy to get attached to. The last day of working at the daycare was very sad. Our group went out and bought a dozen roses for our residents. Our residents gave us a big card of all their names. I saw God so many times throughout the week. I say him in the children's eyes on the last day and also through the residents." --Ashley Nowak

"At first, I was a little hesitant about everything, but it got better. The group I was in painted a house and cut the grass for an elderly woman. The resident was very kind and gave us cold drinks everyday since it was very hot. She said that it was the best birthday she ever had because we did all the work. Our resident was very grateful that we helped her out. I saw God in our resident, Mrs. Parker." --Tim Bittner

"I've always considered myself a good Catholic, but now I feel my faith has strengthened even more. I have definitely grown closer to the Lord. I was working at an elderly woman's home. It didn't look like her house needed a paint job that badly. So my group and I were hesitant about why we were sent to work at her home. Little did we know how much she just wanted someone to talk to since she lived with her 96-year-old mother. I think just listening to what the woman had to say and telling them about our lives left the biggest impression on them." --Domini Marthaler

"It really opened my eyes to the problems [with poverty] this country has. It also showed what a group of young adults can accomplish with faith, hard work and teamwork." --Brandon Pendl

"God works in mysterious ways This trip to New Orleans really helped to bring me closer to him. Helping these people and listening to their stories made me realize how much they appreciated my efforts and how blessed I was. I hated leaving, because I became so attached to the family I was working with and the people I met. I hope to go home and continue to help others in our community." --Lindsey Kust

"I will always remember when we first arrived at the workcamp and we didn't know anyone. But we worked together and got to know each other better. Then it seemed that we had to leave right away. I saw God in the way the groups worked together to do the job, how our resident gave us water every day and greeted us at the door." --Cory Stillings

"When I got to New Orleans and found out what my assignment was for the week, I wondered what God had in mind for me and was a little turned off. I was to work in an old, run-down cemetery. It was quite strange because we really didn't have any living residents and that made it difficult for us at first. However, over the next four days, people from the community stopped by to say thanks for our hard work. We even were on the news in New Orleans. I feel even closer to God than before. It is a wonderful experience, and I feel everyone should be involved." --Shalyn Vanderbloemen

"I painted a house and cut the lawn. We had to stay longer on the last day to finish. It was great to see the residents smile when we were done. I saw God in the way people smiled that we helped. On the streets of New Orleans, we saw a little boy singing for money. I saw God in him because he sang songs about God." --Jon Gosa

"I really didn't know how much we were all helping in New Orleans until the day the residents were asked to come and speak. It came out how much these people really needed us when a lady read a blessing to all of us and she started to cry. In her speech, she told us we were all angels. That meant a lot to the kids and myself. I also liked making new friends at this workcamp. --Seth Schounard

"It exposed me to other parts of the country and opened my mind to other ideas and people. Most of all, it opened my heart to Christ. I always thought I was a good Catholic and knew Jesus, but after going to New Orleans, I realized that I'm not even close. I've learned that 'faith without action is dead.' In order to have faith, you have to be a servant and serve others. I think that is what I am taking home too, service. I want to serve my friends, family and church, but also my community and Christ. I also always believed I was in control of my life, but I've learned God has everything already planned. Sometimes you just need to step back and let God take care of things. If you put your life in God's hands, everything will fall in place like you want it. I think that is really important. You need to put Christ first and step back. The workcamp got me thinking about my life and the things I need to change. I truly believe my eyes were opened and I'm now closer to Christ and a better Catholic. I saw Christ during my week in New Orleans in many ways. I first saw Christ in my team group as we worked well together and got along. I also saw Christ in our resident, Mrs. Reid. She really enjoyed our company and thanked us for our work. The last way I saw Christ was in my friends. I believe God has blessed me with the greatest friends in the world." --Joanna Lipinski

Adult Leaders:

Having been an adult leader for the past three years at the Catholic HEART Workcamp, I can honestly say that each experience was rewarding and positive. From this mission trip to New Orleans, I feel we were able to experience a part of their strong family heritage and faith in God. My resident was a kind 92-year-old man rich in stories to share as we painted the inside of his house. I feel the accounts of his life helped the young people in my group deepen their faith during our prayer time and all of us were able to see Christ through his actions. I will always remember this quote from his wife, "If you feel you need more faith in God, it's because you're saying prayers and not praying." This definitely touched us" --Mary Bittner

Workcamp has been an endearing experience both for the heart and spiritually for the soul. It is rewarding to watch and become involved in youth and adults joining efforts to achieve a common goal, that goal being helping those in need and sharing God's love. --Mary Anne Kust

Heart Workcamp has been a wonderful experience for me. I saw Christ through the eyes of the young people as they grew from just regular children to young adults. I watched them grow spiritually as they learned to accept and carry through with responsibilities and have all shown such care and sharing with others. --Connie Marthaler

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