by Elizabeth Hyde
Special to The Leaven
The No Trespassing signs lining the street seemed to be a stark contrast to the welcoming and loving nature of Cathy Martin’s home in Kansas City, Kansas. Since the first moment Bryce Autry, Carson Kame, Maria Sumcizk and Trey Ybos met her on their first day at Catholic HEART Workcamp, they felt like her beloved grandchildren.
Kame, Autry, Sumcizk and Ybos learned about Catholic HEART through their respective youth groups in Tennessee and Texas. Catholic Heart invites teens and adults from youth groups across the country to come together to serve, connect and grow in Christ.
Catholic Heart “provides parish youth groups, teens and adult leaders service opportunity to restore homes and hearts” as well as other kinds of service to the dear neighbor.
Clients embrace their ‘angels’
For Martin, this help could not have come at a more crucial time in her life. After many months in the hospital, her home was left in shambles, without someone to keep it clean and organized. Her “angels” came in the form of these four teenagers, ready and willing to serve and make her home hers again.
Throughout their four days at Martin’s house, they painted shutters, cleaned chandeliers and reorganized her home. They shared much laughter, joy and hard work. Throughout their short stay, they also developed a deep relationship with their almost-grandmother Cathy.
“These kids were such an amazing blessing,” said Martin. “They cleaned the chandelier, painted the windows and so many more things. Before they got here, I had a four-page list of things for them to do!
“I mean they were truly amazing.”
Pregnancy Clinic also benefits
With almost 300 kids and adults participating in Catholic HEART in Kansas City, Martin was not the only deeply grateful client helped by the camp. Other agencies, including the Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic and TurnStyles, also employed the help of willing volunteers.
Donna Kelsey, director of Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, was especially grateful for the help of her work teams. Kelsey asked them to rearrange some of the rooms, roll up onesies for donation and other tasks throughout the clinic. Kelsey said that without the dedicated work of teens from Catholic HEART each year, Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic would struggle to meet the basic needs of its clients.
“They have enabled us to have better use of our space. This has allowed us to begin to set aside a new counseling space, which will be used to counsel clients about the pregnancy test, to counsel them about the life that they’re carrying and to educate them about the decision between life and abortion,” said Kelsey.
“This service done by Catholic HEART Workcamp will allow us to continue to help women from pregnancy until three years afterwards.”
Catholic hearts grow in Christ
While it is clear that the clients of Catholic HEART Workcamp benefit greatly from the program, participants insist that they, too, experience a renewal in their fervor to worship and serve.
“The most impactful thing [about the workcamp] is that there are so many teens from so many different places that have come here for the sole intention of doing good things and go into the community and try to help people without expecting anything from it,” said Emma Pershinger, a participant from Sacred Heart Parish in Emporia.
“I think it’s really beautiful that we can see young people, especially, going out to help not even their own community, but outside of themselves and what they know,” she added. “It’s cool to see people get together and help spread the word of God and help build their relationship with God through service.”
Though Pershinger experienced a connection to God unparalleled in her lifetime through Catholic HEART, she was also just happy to know that she could help her client, Carol Martin, have an easier time of it with day-to-day activities like yard work and laundry.
“I hope that she has less to worry about her house and can focus more energy on her husband and herself,” she said.