All Together Now
January 21, 2010
Filed under News
Whether inspired by Barack Obama or by the words of President Kennedy before him, Americans–particularly in the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake in Haiti–have no shortage of reasons for volunteering these days. Volunteerism is good for individuals, but it also helps tie communities together.
On a cold, dreary day last month, while others were taking refuge from the steady rain in the comfort of their homes, a contingent of young people from the East County Youth Group of the First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon were giving their time and effort back to the community.
In an effort led by volunteers Becky Hurt and Billy Piper, the Mount Helix home of Chuck and Judy Duddles was transformed into a holiday showcase, complete with colorful lights, an elaborately decorated tree and stockings hanging from the chimney.
Hurt, a youth ministry leader, said this particular volunteer effort started about three years ago when the Duddles asked the group for decorating assistance after Chuck hurt his shoulder. It then evolved into an annual event.
We have been members of the El Cajon church for almost 30 years. I hurt my rotator cuff during that Christmas and couldn’t hang up decorations, Chuck said. “So we talked to Becky… and the youth group came out and decorated and had a good time.”
I like helping people” 17-year-old Ashley N. said.
I like the good feeling it creates inside, knowing I’m helping others,” 17-year- old Katie R. said.
The youth group’s efforts aren’t limited to just the holiday season.
Piper, a middle school youth leader for almost two years, spoke about other volunteer and fundraising efforts the group has been involved in.
“We take the third Saturday of every month, and our homeless ministry helps the homeless in Kennedy Park by El Cajon Valley High School, Piper said. “We serve food, and hand out soap, toothpaste, a lot of floss, blankets, stuff like that. We usually help about 30 to 45 homeless people.”
Piper feels good giving back to the community, and notes the group’s camaraderie. “I really enjoy doing things like this. The bonding is something normally found in a family, but we do this all together so it’s kind of like our youth group family with a bond you can’t find anywhere else.”
In October the youth group volunteered during the Mission Fair fundraising event. More than $3,000 was raised for such worthy endeavors as Care House, which provides mentoring, tutoring and outreach programs for disadvantaged kids; Urban People Living in Faith and Trust (UPLIFT), which provides services to seniors, the homeless and children; and the Nurses’ Fund of the Cajon Valley Union School District, which provides basic necessities to needy families and children.
For more information about the East County Youth Group, contact the First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon at 619.442.2583.