Y.N.I.A. St Gabriel Upton 2017
Part Two of our Young Neighbors in Action experience was with a group of very hard workers from Saint Gabriel’s Parish, Upton MA. They arrived on Monday July 17, 2017 full of enthusiasm and with bright shiny faces. They left us on Friday full of Coney Island hot dogs, wearing their battle badges of light blue paint, a little tired, but still full of enthusiasm.
This group had the job of finishing up painting the walls in the Just New room and in the back warehouse area. They took to the work even though it called them to do things that they never ever imagined they would be doing in their young lives. We had them paint with 15 foot handles on their rollers and drive the lift around the Little Store so they could get into position to “paint” the wall. They also worked “way up there,” nearly 40 feet high, in the cage using our forklift truck. They learned something new about this painting stuff every day.
It isn’t all just work. During lunch we discussed what happened during the morning and what we hoped to get accomplished in the afternoon. But most often Kathy and I would answer their questions about just what was going on here at the Little Store and what are Urban Missionaries. This is often the best time of the week because it’s when we get to know each other, share ourselves, and enjoy the camaraderie that develops each and every day.
Each member of the group also gets a chance to work the front counter with Marieilis. This allows them to have some interaction with the people who use the store. It is interesting to listen to their experiences at the front counter. For some it was the first time in their young lives that they interacted with a person of color or someone with a much different cultural or language background. More often than not they come away from this touched by this particular experience here at the Little Store.
Saying good-bye is always difficult. The week passes so fast that Friday pops up and we start the closing process. We do our trip to Coney Island Hot Dogs which is always fun to do. Then we have our wrap up meeting where we tell them that, “If you didn’t come and do the work you did this week, it would not get done.” We tell them that we consider them a gift from God and that makes them special. Then we have the final hugs and handshakes and pats on the back as they file out the door into the parking lot for the last time. Then we sit and wonder at the gift we received.
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