All Saints Parish teens serve at work camps

The young people participate in Catholic HEART Workcamps in Philadelphia and Knoxville

Serving away and at home Teens from All Saints Parish participated in a Catholic HEART Workcamp in Philadelphia (above) this summer as well as one co-hosted by All Saints and Knoxville Catholic High School.

Many teens from All Saints Parish in Knoxville have been busy this summer. A group of 46 teens and adults traveled to Philadelphia for a week of service with Catholic HEART Workcamp (CHWC), which partners with local agencies to set up work projects that include painting, yard work, home repair, light construction, working with children and the elderly, and more.

The camp in Philadelphia provided a unique experience in that many of the worksites were within walking distance of the host school. It was an immersion experience because participants were living in the community in which they were working.

“It was an amazing experience that revived my faith in a fun and different way by focusing on what really matters,” said Knoxville Catholic High School senior Kimberly Narro.“This was my first year at camp, and I can’t wait to find out where we go next year,” said freshman Lauren Meyers.

Many of the participants from All Saints also had the opportunity to give back at home within a few weeks of their return from Philadelphia. KCHS and All Saints hosted Catholic HEART Workcamp Knoxville 2012 from July 1-7. Nearly 300 high school and college students descended upon Knoxville to participate. Partnering agencies included the Knoxville–Knox County Community Action Committee, Child and Family Tennessee, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Salvation Army, KPD Safety City, the Cancer Fund of America, Caris Healthcare, SOAR Youth Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Ijams Nature Center, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.

This year marked the fifth time that Knoxville has hosted the event. Groups traveled from Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to serve in Knoxville. The participating youth raised funds all year in order to participate in the experience. The Knoxville campers were based at KCHS and All Saints where they ate, slept, and showered. Participants slept on air mattresses in classrooms, showered in locker rooms, and ate cafeteria food.

“It is an amazing thing to see the wonderful things that teenagers are doing today,” said Annie Nassis, youth minister at All Saints and manager for Knoxville CHWC. “Oftentimes, teens get only negative publicity. These volunteers have paid money to sweat, sleep on the floor, and sacrifice a week to do service work to help strangers. It is inspiring to see how their small actions can truly change the lives of others.”

Catholic HEART Workcamp began in 1993 and is based outside of Orlando. CHWC holds 48 camps nationwide and in Jamaica each summer with more than 12,000 teens participating. Plans are under way for the All Saints trip to CHWC next summer.

CHWC was founded in 1993 by Steve and Lisa Walker, who at the time were youth ministers at St. Margaret Mary Church in Winter Park, Fla. The organization’s mission is “to share the love of Jesus and serve the neglected, brokenhearted, and marginalized in any way needed” and “to empower participants to live as disciples of Christ through serving others.”

For more information, about Catholic HEART Workcamp, visit www.heartworkcamp.com.

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