Hamilton Presbyterian Church youth group lends a hand
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A church in a small West Virginia valley has new green paint and white trim, thanks to members of the youth group at Hamilton Presbyterian Church in Bethel Park.
Every other year, members of the youth group, called "The God Squad," go on a week-long mission trip to West Virginia to help restore homes for needy people.
The youth group of about 20 from grades six through 12 is recruiting new members from local school districts, including Bethel Park, Baldwin-Whitehall, South Park, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair and Thomas Jefferson.
One group leader estimated that 30 to 40 percent of youth who attend are from other Christian denominations.
After the group arrives in West Virginia, the members split into teams. The team cooking breakfast must be up early. Other teams are responsible for putting lunch items on a table so everyone can make a lunch, or for cooking supper.
Carol Karel, a group leader, said after breakfast on every day but Wednesday the teens and leaders go to different work sites. Wednesday is set aside to enjoy the sights in the area.
Last summer, in addition to painting the church near Colcord, W.Va., the teens replaced and painted damaged wooden siding on one elderly couple's home; repaired a porch for another elderly couple; and fixed plumbing where sewage had been running underneath a kitchen floor and replaced the kitchen floor boards.
Before making a mission trip, the youths raise money, which is sent to Advocacy and Workcamps Inc., a nonprofit in West Virginia that buys the lumber and other supplies for the home repair projects.
The next mission trip will be in summer of 2014.
Mrs. Karel said teens on mission trips learn responsibility and enjoy camaraderie. Michelle Kirk and Barb Roberto are the other mothers who serve as youth leaders.
In addition to mission trips, youth group members volunteer in local soup kitchens and thrift stores, Lois Illar of the church's mission marketing team wrote in an email.
However, the group's activities aren't all work and no play.
When the teens meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Sundays at the church, activities can include videos, games, short Bible studies and eating.
One Sunday night, youth group members drew pictures of their hopes and dreams for adult life. Afterward, they gave short explanations of what they drew.
"I drew violins because I play violin and I want a future in music," Bridget Irwin said.
Malia Mueller said she would like to go to Duquesne University and be a sports reporter. Becca Kirk drew a picture of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, explaining that she would like to travel and be involved in photography.
A couple of girls in the group drew pictures to indicate marriage as a goal.
Afterward, the group watched a 15-minute video from the series called GodQuest, with narrator Sean McDowell.
Zane Podsobinski, a youth group member who is studying pre-law at the University of Pittsburgh, said it is not uncommon for alumni from the group to come back to attend meetings and help with work projects.
Another graduate, Jordan Church, who attends Community College of Allegheny County and hopes to be a teacher, was back.
Mr. Podsobinski said one of the best things about being involved in the fellowship is making connections to others. Another benefit is learning to work together cooperatively, he said. Details: 412-884-2722.
First Published February 7, 2013 5:37 am