A DAY OFF from School becomes a DAY ON for Service
Every year, AmeriCorps Cape Cod hosts a MLK Day of Service in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to impact the Cape Cod Community. For the 3rd year in a row, John Wesley’s Youth Group has participated in this day of service. However this year, the Youth made an entire day out of it and participated in another service project that would benefit a particular community. This year specifically, AmeriCorps focused on the homeless problem that has been increasing on the Cape for some years now. In particular, one Hyannis shelter serves the homeless in various ways, or like they say, the “whole person.” This includes services to the physical, mental, emotional, etc. part of a person.
Groups and individuals from all over Cape Cod came together on Monday, January 16th to help serve this one particular shelter. There were various stations set up where our 13 Youth were able to rotate through to help. One station involved sorting out travel-size toiletries. Another station involved writing encouraging letters which would be placed into canvas bags that would be given out to the clients of the shelter. Another station involved decorating this canvas bags. It was fun to see how our Youth would decorate the bags. Some wrote encouraging quotes or Bible scriptures, while others drew designs or images and still others wrote funny statements. The students were also encouraged to create a mural where they identified a current problem, whether is be political, social, environmental, etc. and than a realistic solution to the problem. It was interesting to see how students would solve some of life’s biggest challenges. Once the bags were stuffed with toiletries, supplies and encouraging letters the whole group listened to a few speakers on how we can make a difference in our communities. We left knowing that when we hold the door for someone, pick up a piece of trash or offer to help someone, we are making a huge difference in our community and in a person’s life. This encouragement helped us for the 2nd part of our day.
We drove from the Dennis-Yarmouth High School to Hyannis where we picked up trash near the Hyannis rotary and the Airport. Of course with kids everything turns into a game so two teams were created. They were given gloves, a huge trash bag and commissioned to pick up as much debris as possible. We started in the Airport parking lot then made our way to the Wendy’s the rotary and then down Iyannough Road (which is probably the busiest street in Hyannis). The students picked up various things along the side of the road. As we walked, you could hear students asking, “why and the world was this thrown out of a car?” or “who would do such a thing?” And there aren’t answers for these types of questions. People just do it. It’s convenient to throw something out of the window instead of being responsible and throwing it away properly. Picking up other people’s trash has a way of humbling us and hopefully encouraged them to not do it themselves. One of the greatest responses to this project was how people reacted when they saw our group picking up the trash. There were hundreds of cars that saw our students/adult volunteers picking up trash on their day off from school. Motorist honked their horns, waived, rolled down their windows to thank and encourage us; it was really remarkable! I can’t help but think of the effect our students had on everyone who saw them. I only hope it spurs on others to make a difference in their community.
After collecting two heaping bags of trash, our Youth went on a private tour of the Air Traffic Control Tower (at the airport) and Rectrix (a private jet hanger). Mike Lowry, one of our church members very graciously welcomed our group to his place of work to show and teach us everything that goes on in the control towers. Our group got to see first-hand how the tower communicates with the pilots of planes and vice-versa. They learned the runway system, why they’re called what they’re called, why the wind is a tremendous factor and how to read radar computer screens. Then the group got to see all the luxurious private jets at the Rectrix Hanger. Talk about motivation to study hard in school! These planes were amazing! Some enjoyed seeing the cockpit up close while others crawled under the planes to see all the details of it. What a great opportunity to see up close and ask questions about a mode of transportation we all use so frequently.
Driving back to Falmouth our hearts were full. We did so many great things in just a short amount of time. We stretched ourselves when writing thoughtful and encouraging letters to complete strangers, we served humbly in the freezing cold picking up after other people and grew closer to our friends in the process. We all probably prefer to be served, but something beautiful happens when we take on the role of servant and help others. We hope you are as encouraged of the work of our Youth as we are.
Thank you so much to Carrie Leonard, Jack Gardner and Mike Lowry for chaperoning, participating and teaching our students how to be better citizens. Leading by example is the best way for our kids to learn what is means to be a good human-being and you all do it flawlessly.
To view more pictures from the day, click here.