Katie Coburn, 18, of Whitehouse, front, and Tommy Trax, 14, of Berkey work on the home of Gwen Mays. Mrs. Mays has a knee injury and cannot use a ladder so Youth Elect Service members worked at her Toledo home on Friday. The YES group worked on 11 projects in the area.
Nearly 115 teens sang “if not us, then who” and “it’s time for us to do something” for a worship song at St. Rose Church in Perrysburg before heading out to do labor projects for people in need in Toledo.
The Matthew West Christian song “Do Something” helped the volunteers get energized together before heading out to 11 projects Thursday through Saturday that involved painting, scraping, weeding, cleaning, lifting, and other tasks homeowners needed to be done.
“It is cool to do service, and at night the spiritual component is applied to bring to the service, and it adds another layer,” said Eileen DiPofi, 16, of Sylvania, a student at Notre Dame Academy. “It is God working through us.”
The volunteers took part in Youth Elect Service and attend area churches. The program is in its 33rd year. St. Rose, host this year, housed the volunteers who, at night, took part, along with adult leaders, in spiritual time. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the volunteers were out working.
“This is one of the most exciting weeks for us, they are the most wonderful children,” said Gwen Mays, a Toledo resident who was having her garage and door painted. “All I want to do is cry I’m so at a loss for words.”
Mrs. Mays has a knee injury and cannot use a ladder. She said she was “amazed” by the talent and politeness of the teens.
“The Good Lord is directing them, my heart started pumping when they did a group prayer before working [Friday] to ask for the skill and talent to work,” Mrs. Mays said.
Kevin Mossing, 17, of Maumee, left, and homeowner Gwen Mays embrace. Mrs. Mays said, ‘these [YES] kids are so focused, so sincere. Such hard workers; it gives me hope for our future.’
Along with the high school students, there were 35 college-aged volunteers and about 100 parent volunteers to help with the groups, food, and other to-do items. Mark Brahier, program coordinator, said the project costs about $7,000 to run, which is funded through fund-raising at the churches and minimal volunteer fees.
Mr. Brahier of St. Rose said the program is looking to expand to offer service opportunities year round.
The main one will always be summer with four days together, but day trips could be added in the other seasons.
“The greatest part is seeing the relationship develop between the homeowners and the team bond and connect,” he said. “It is mutually beneficial because the students get to learn about poverty specifically in Toledo — and see the grateful homeowners.”
While the “Do Something” lyrics rang true for the students, “All the People Said Amen” was the week’s theme song because it is an upbeat reminder of the program’s motto “Faith in Action.”