Youth encouraged to live ‘uncommon lives’
by Julie Holthaus
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Elizabeth Foster sits in a rocking chair in her urban Kansas City, Kan., home, with the handicapped dog she adopted from a shelter sitting contently by her side.
Although Foster’s days are typically quiet, today is different.
Today, her home is abuzz with young people from across the country, joining forces to serve through Catholic Heart Work Camp.
“Catholic Heart Work Camp is about service, connection and loving others,” said Rick Cheek, of the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.
The work camp has been providing youth groups, teens and adult leaders with service opportunities since 1993, the goal being to restore homes and lift the spirits of children, the elderly and the disabled.
This is the third year for the work camp in Kansas City, under the direction of Cheek and Scott See. It drew 365 youth from nine states, who served in the city from July 14-20.
“It’s fun to meet people and come together to help others,” said Nata- sha Bilkey of Sheboygan Falls, Wis. “It doesn’t feel like work.”
A variety of repairs and improvements were done by the 52 teams throughout the week, including the installation of a new kitchen, new handicap ramps, the repair of a bathroom, the landscaping of yards, and painting.
“Around 150 gallons of paint were spread throughout Kansas City,” said Cheek.
Foster was one of many to receive help during the week. Suffering from fibromyalgia, diabetes and neuropathy, Foster has difficulty walking. She continues to serve her community however, and works with a retired Sister of Charity to sort out sweets and pastries for those in the neighborhood who cannot afford them.
“I love helping people,” said Foster, an attitude that reverberated throughout the week.
“We really get to know and bond with the residents during work camp,” said Miranda Geel of Mount Prospect,Ill., who has participated in the program for several years. “Elizabeth [Foster] gives so much to others, so it’s really great to be able to give back to her.”
The theme for this year’s camp was “Be Seen, Live Uncommon.”
“This means to be seen doing good, so others can see Christ through you,” said Cheek. “Standing out in this way might mean living an uncommon life.”
St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park served as home base for the work camp. There, as well as onsite, the week was organized around not only work, but daily Mass, the rosary, eucharistic adoration and talks geared around the theme.
“It was steeped in prayer,” said Cheek. “One of the best weeks I’ve had.”
Through a blend of prayer and ser- vice, participants spent the hot July week living out Pope Francis’ emphasis on service and humility.
“It’s a week to come together and help others,” said Rachel Kunst of Iowa. “We are really seeing God work this week.”