With water spraying and laughter echoing down the street, Hamburg youth washed cars at a free car wash for community members held outside Journey Cafe in Hamburg on July 13.
“It’s part of our Reach Out summer youth mission week. This is the last activity of the week,” said Dan Bailey, youth minister at Journey Cafe and Zion’s Church in Windsor Castle. “We’re doing it in the spirit of freedom because God gave Jesus to us for free and we want to give back to people for free. We’re not even accepting donations.”
This is the 11th year Zion’s Church held Reach Out, a week-long summer mission project, primarily for teens.
About 40 youth ages 12 to 18 participated providing community service throughout the Hamburg area over the past week. Community service projects included working at Hamburg Borough Park, painting fire hydrants for Hamburg Borough Municipal Water Authority, fixing a handicap ramp, working at Keystone Military Families in Shoemakersville, helping in the creation of a community garden in Hamburg through the Our Town Foundation and staying at the Olivet Blue Mountain Camp in Hamburg. About 20 adult volunteers assisted as well.
“Really, it’s about giving back to the community and showing the love of God in practical ways,” said Bailey. “They always rise above. They rise to the challenge. They always do far better than we ever thought. They work super hard. They’re incredible go-getter kids and they just don’t want to sit around on their haunches. They want to get out and do some work.”
Bailey said Reach Out is a really great program and the most fun week of the year for them.
“We love it,” he said.
Hamburg teens Greta Bailey, 16, and Trenton Metcalfe, 17, were among the youth to participate.
“It’s a way to reach out to the community and I get to spend it with all of my homies. It’s a great way to have fun with them and still serve Christ,” said Metcalfe.
“It’s a good way to show people we care and that we are not afraid to spread the love of Jesus,” said Bailey.
“Personally, for me, I’ve been able to reach out to a lot more friends. I’ve been trying to be more open to people so it’s helped me open myself up, allow people to hold me accountable,” said Metcalfe about how the experience has influenced him.
“I learned that it’s the little things in life, you don’t have to go do something huge, you can just do some little act of kindness and that can really change a person,” said Bailey. “You can change the world by just being nice and spreading the love of God to them.”
Among the highlights of the week, Metcalfe said visiting the Laurel Center to give flowers to residents and hosting a spaghetti dinner for local senior citizens of the Knitting Mill Apartments was particularly impactful for him.
“It was an experience going (to the Laurel Center) and seeing the people. They were so thrilled to see us,” said Metcalfe. “That was one of the most touching parts of this week for me.”
Overall, they said the week-long Reach Out summer youth mission was lots of fun.