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Enumclaw teens spend summer serving
A band of dedicated teens from Enumclaw spent part of their summer on a mission trip to New Orleans, where they helped underserved citizens.
Making the trip were youth from Trinity Lutheran, Calvary Presbyterian, Hope Lutheran, Mount Rainier Christian and New Life Foursquare churches. The 30 teens, ages 14 to 18, were accompanied by six adults.
The teens helped with a multitude of activities like painting, yard work and simply taking time to sit down and visit with seniors at a nursing home.
The volunteers divided into different groups. One worked at Arc, helping developmentally delayed adults sort Mardi Gras beads. Another group went to a nursing home, where they talked with residents. One group worked with APEX, a family-run drop-in center for inner-city children.
“I felt blessed to help these individuals; I felt like I was able to recognize the strength and perseverance of the people in New Orleans,” said Tammy Rismiller, Trinity Lutheran youth group leader. “I really admired how they persevered through their brokenness of Katrina.”
The youth groups also visited the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and the Lower Ninth Ward during their mission. The people residing in the Lower Ninth Ward are among the poorest in New Orleans and were hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina. According to Rismiller, many houses ward remain boarded up and retain water marks left behind by the hurricane.
“I learn now that I should live life more graciously, because those victims of Hurricane Katrina had to wake up each morning and know that everything that they ever knew is gone, while we just wake up and take everything for granted,” Paige Perez, a member of the Trinity Lutheran youth group, said.
Local teens were impressed with the Southern hospitality in Houston, where the youth group landed before making the drive to New Orleans.
“Every now and then, the GPS didn’t work while traveling to New Orleans, but we could just stop off and they would give us instructions on how to get to that point,” Will Sathre recalled. “There was just a lot of instances where people would just start up conversations for us. The southern hospitality was kind of a culture shock because it seems like we don’t have it up here.”
Many of the Enumclaw youth felt connected to the residents of New Orleans. Music is a big part of Zach McCowin’s life and when he learned that Troy, a resident of New Orleans, lost all of his records in the hurricane, McCowin instantly felt sympathetic.
“He lost all of his Flaming Lips records, which was our favorite band,” McCowin said.