Sixteen members of the Yorktown United
Methodist Church (“YUMC”) will be leaving Yorktown on July 13th to attend one
of their two annual mission trips. The group consists of 11 high school
kids and 5 adults. They are headed to Eliot, Maine for one week, where
they will fix up houses for people who are not physically or financially able
to do so on their own. Once in Maine, they will be joined by volunteers from 5
other churches from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.
In support of the trip, Nicole Meeker of Somers (who volunteers from the YUMC), notes that “people forget that it’s not just citizens of third world countries that need and deserve our help; it’s people in our own communities, too.”
Approximately 100 people will participate in the mission project. The churches provide their own tools and resources so that they can complete their projects free of charge to the charity recipient. To cover their costs, people volunteering for the trip pay a $330 admission charge. Other church members pledge additional amounts to help defray costs. Sleeping on church floors and cooking their own food (as the volunteers do) reduces expenses as well.
By design, the majority of the people on the trip are of high school age. Gene Ott, Pastor of the YUMC, feels strongly that “when youth get involved in mission, whether in the church or beyond its walls, there is the great opportunity for changed lives. The younger that we can get our folks involved in mission, the greater possibility there is for positive personal, societal and systemic change both for them and for others. Never has this been more evident to me than in the stories shared and the young peoples lives that have been transformed through their involvement in UM ARMY."
The largest individual project being targeted in this year’s effort is the construction of a wheelchair ramp. The YUMC has found that wheelchair-bound people cannot always afford to have a ramp built at their residence. People unable to do so become housebound, as they are unable to leave their premises.
As part of last year’s mission trip, those responsible for building a wheelchair ramp constructed an 84 foot ramp in Melrose, Massachusetts. Lauren Kocz, a Cortlandt Manor youth who participated in that project and has been on four mission trips in total, said that while she was “skeptical at first” about the trips, she really enjoyed her time there. She went on to say that “it positively affected the way that I see life.”
Michael Hulstrung of Shrub Oak was a first
time participant in last year’s trip. When asked about it, he said that he really
enjoyed how his mission team “came together as strangers, but left feeling closer
to each other, closer to the community and closer to God.”
The Yorktown church’s participation on the trip is due to their continued involvement with the UM ARMY. UM ARMY is an acronym for United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth. This organization has provided the support structure for mission trips across the Northeastern United States for the past 11 years. The YUMC has participated in such trips for six years and is the only church in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties to be involved with such projects.