Catholic youth reach out in service
About 60 young people camped out at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School, bathing in portable showers and sleeping on classroom floors.
But the somewhat primitive conditions were of little importance. Their focus remained on the service they were providing.
“It’s been really good,” said Nick Domitrovich, 15. “I’m feeling closer to God with this. I’m finally giving back to the community after all they’ve given me.”
Participants in the Catholic youth group’s YES – Youth Empowered by the Spirit – Camp, spent each day this week performing service for the elderly throughout Carson City.
Throughout the week, they have performed tasks ranging from pulling weeds to landscaping an entire back yard at about 27 homes, said youth pastor Doug Stewart.
“We really wanted to have a connection to the elderly and really make a difference in our community,” Stewart said. “We’re here for one purpose and that purpose is serving.”
Many of the recipients were overwhelmed by the service rendered.
“The guy we were working for started to cry. He was so excited we were there helping him out,” said Andrew Jones, 16. “That was really touching. It almost brought me to tears.”
In the evenings, the youth, ages 13-18, participate in motivational and inspirational presentations as well as worship concerts.
“They just get you motivated and active,” said Ricardo Acevedo, 14. “It’s just awesome.”
They said the experience has increased their faith and helped them bond with one another. But they said they did not forget their true purpose.
“One of the biggest reasons most of us are here is to help people in need and know what it means to change people’s lives,” said Nicole Strickland, 15. “It was life-changing for me.”
Stewart also pointed to support from the community, with 20 adult volunteers spending the week supervising the camp, some of them taking vacation time from work.
McDonald’s provided breakfast one day, Capital Auto donated mechanic work and Carson Florist provided flowers for a celebration dinner.
Each night, different families volunteered to bring food.
This year, participants came from Carson City, Douglas County, Smith Valley and Reno. Next year, Stewart said, he’d like to expand the camp to the entire Northern Nevada diocese.
The camp concludes this evening with a dinner for participants as well as the recipients followed by a dance.
The message Lizzie Cates, 14, will take from the experience is simple.
“The littlest things can mean so much to people,” she said.