Who says all kids these days aren't committed to making the world a better place? In today's culture, it sometimes seems that many young people are more concerned with the latest app on their cell phone than building a better future for those in need.
That's certainly not the case for a group of teenagers who were in Traer last week to help make repairs and paint a home on 4th Street. The teens, who were part of a church mission group called TeenServe, came from all over the Midwest. There were teens from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and other states working in Traer.
TeenServe is a national nonprofit youth mission group that has been visiting communities around the Midwest since 2000. Teens that participate not only work once they get to their jobsite, but before their bags are even packed. Those wanting to participate in the program are responsible for raising $400, the cost of the trip, through their own choice of fundraisers.
Teens from all over the Midwest were in Traer at the end of June to help repair a home on 4th Street. TeenServe, a non-denominational youth mission organization, helps provide needy homeowners with the opportunity to have painting and light maintenance completed at no cost. Here, some of the kids brave the heat and paint away.
Brian Warner, who was responsible for supervising the crews in Traer, stressed the importance of making teens take an active role in community service.
"Just here in the Waterloo area, over $24,000 was raised," Warner said. "The kids get together and have fundraisers to get the $400 they need to participate, so it gives them accountability and teaches them responsibility."
The work TeenServe performs is extensive, with residents getting exterior painting, carpentry and other repairs made. The organization also partners with corporate groups to maintain an efficient operation.
"Habitat for Humanity is also involved extensively in the process as they help secure all the paint we use," Warner said. "Valspar provides the paint free of charge."
Local churches typically organize the projects and workload, with Nazareth Lutheran Church of Cedar Falls serving as the host church in the Waterloo area this year. Other locations being served this summer included Pontiac (IL), Holcombe (WI) and Balsam Lake (WI).
The house that was worked on in Traer, like the other charitable recipients, had the homeowner go through an extensive application process.
"There is a thorough application process for the resident, where we come out and assess the needs of the person and the job site," Warner said. "If all the qualifications are met, they get put on the list to have the work done at no charge to the homeowner."
Over the week the group was in Iowa, over 65 houses were repaired or improved by the TeenServe team.
TeenServe is non-denominational and welcomes help from all able-bodied and devoted youths. For more information on how your child can participate in the program, visit the website at www.teenserve.org or call (888) 598-3367.