Gathering for a photograph Nov. 10 after a planning session for their work mission trip are teenagers (front, left to right): Amy Toolan, Ellen Jones, Jayden Cain, Tyler Toolan, Amanda Gee, (rear): Whitney Markwica, Noah Markwica, Logan Webster, Patrick Morey, Julie Angell and Michael Morey. Also participating in the mission are (not pictured): Austin and Jarod West, Joe Schuster, Colby Russo and Mackenzie Blydenburgh. Chaperones for the trip are Mike and Barb Morey, Gail DeMarsh and Brian Angell.
Heather Jones smiled as she looked at a group of teenagers at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church making plans for their third annual mission trip to distant cities to help upgrade homes of people in need.
“Their parents say that after their kids came back from their mission trips, there were no more complaints about their chores,” she said.
Krista Gee, parent of one of the teen volunteers, agreed.
“When they came back, the kids were humble,” she said, noting her daughter asked he parents not to buy her Christmas presents, but to donate the money to those in need instead. “On the missions, they saw how bad others have it.”
For two years, a dozen or so teens have traveled on annual missions to help elderly and underprivileged homeowners spruce up their homes.
In summer 2009 and 2010, they cleaned up, painted, and winterized homes, as well as performing light repairs and upgrading landscaping. In some cases, cleaning up meant extensive work in hauling refuse out of homes and organizing stuff to make a home livable, Gee said.
“Several homes they worked on were nearly to the point of being condemned,” she said.
This coming summer, 16 teenagers and four adult chaperones will be traveling to an urban destination in New Jersey. The prior two years, the missions took youth to North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Fundraisers set for mission trip
In upcoming weeks, the teenagers of St. Cecilia will be seeking the support of people in the region — through fundraisers.
On Wednesday evenings beginning Nov. 30, the teens will be holding a babysitting session at the church for parents who want to head out Christmas shopping without children along.
Also planned is a sale of decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses — and a soup sale — planned to occur in conjunction with the Christmas in Warrensburg festival set for Dec. 3 and 4.
Ellen Jones, 13, who’s been on two missions, said Nov. 10 that the missions had an impact on her life, as well as others.
“They were definitely spiritual, mind-opening experiences,” she said. “It felt great to help people like we did.”
Whitney Markwica offered her thoughts.
“Now we want to go out in our hometown community to help others in need here,” she said.
Tyler Toolan, 13, said he enjoyed the camaraderie among the teen mission workers
“It was good to help people out — and fun to meet new people from all over the country just like us,” he said.
Amy Toolan said she gained a new perspective on a prior mission.
“Now I have no more complaints about picking up my room at home,” she said, adding that the missions offered a “soul-searching” experience. “I realize how fortunate I am to have a room to clean up.”