Westborough – This summer, 27 youth and seven adults, including parishioners from the Congregational Church of Westborough's Senior High Youth Group, traveled to Pennsylvania where they worked on a variety of programs to assist residents in need.
According to one of the adult leaders, Art Sharkey, this was the eighth consecutive year the Westborough group has participated in a mission of this type.
Over the course of the week-long program, the group split up to work at sites in Harbor Creek and Erie.
“During the daytime, the 34 participants were divided among 34 work crews, scraping and painting, replacing handicapped ramps and stairs, and doing some roofing and yard work serving elderly, handicapped and low income residents,” Art ?said. “During the evening, the group participated in an evening spiritual program at Harbor Creek Jr./Sr. High School where they were based. ”
His children, Danielle and Jake, were part of the team; son Max has done previous ones.
Danielle, who will be a senior at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School (AVRTHS) this fall, worked on a crew that was painting the interior and exterior of a home.
“What this trip meant to me was really taking a step forward and learning more about God and how he affects our lives and how our lives affect the people we help,” she said.
But the experience of working on a team with other like-minded young people and adults also had a profound effect on her, she said.
“I was on a double crew where no one knew each other, and as soon as we got to work, we felt like one big family.? It brought such warmth and joy to my heart.?? I wanted to stay there forever,” she said.
Melanie Borglund, a 2013 graduate of Westborough High School who will be attending Clark University this fall, was on her fourth trip. She too was on a crew painting a house.
“It was a great way to help others and to learn more about yourself and your relationship with God,” she said.
Meeting the resident whose house she worked on was a bonus, she said.
“It had been a two year process for her to qualify for the work to be done,” Melanie noted. “She was so thankful for all of our hard work; she had tears in her eyes.”
This was Julie Hutchinson's first year as a work camper. She thought she knew what to expect, she said, because her two older sisters and father had been on previous trips, but she was “completely wrong.”
“I didn’t realize it before, but it turned out to be the most satisfying and humbling experience of my life,” she said.
Julie worked on a crew that built a new deck for a woman who drives autistic children on field trips. As she has three autistic cousins herself, Julie said she felt a special bond with the woman.
“The feelings I had while watching her admire her new deck are feelings that some people are never blessed to have,” she said. “So I can thank God that I was so blessed to have the experience I had at Harbor Creek this summer.”
The 27 youth included seven first-time work campers and 20 returning youth.? The youth hailed from several local high schools (AVRTHS, Grafton, Hopkinton, Westborough and Worcester Academy) and included two college students (Lafayette College, Easton Pa. and Keene State College, Keene N.H. )
The trip was organized by Group Work Camps, based out of Loveland, Colo.
The youth participants were: Austin Adams, Katey Allen, Sam Berg, Kevin Bock, Sarah Bock, Melanie Borglund, Dan Boucher, Jessica Boucher, Elena Cochrane, Kara DiOrio, Sam DiOrio, Tabitha Domeij, Robert Herstedt, Sabrina Herstedt, Ben Huber, Julie Hutchinson, Colleen King, Doug Oevermann, Greg Oevermann, Julya Peairs, Ethan Peterson, Maggie Reynolds, Nic Ross, Danielle Sharkey, Jake Sharkey, Emily Shea, and Megan Whittles.? The adult leaders were: Linda Borglund, Al Hutchinson, Mike Lawler, Rich Lord, Al Mosher, Sally Petersen, and Art Sharkey.