Champaign County teenagers who attend the First Presbyterian Church headed to Detroit, Michigan in late June as part of their focus to serve others. The group’s motto for the trip was “Faith in Action.”
They helped prepare meals, clean, package food, and organize donations for several different organizations throughout Detroit.
The group spent two days at Cass Community Social Services where the team helped prepare meals and clean the facility. Cass’s goal is to provide food, housing, health/mental health services and job programs in areas of concentrated poverty. It serves as both a long-term and emergency shelter.
Lily Trenor was impressed with the dedication of the staff, but especially that of Kay Luckett, or “Ms. Kay” as she likes to be called.
Ms. Kay is one of the head cooks at Cass who shared with the group that, “There are so many people in need, but I do this for the kids.”
During the second day the team supported Gleaners Community Food Bank. Gleaners “provides households with access to sufficient, nutritious food and related sources.”
George Slone said he was grateful for the opportunity to work with people who regularly volunteer there. “They helped us understand the need for the food bank and who they serve while helping guide all the volunteers”, Slone said.
At the end of the day, the team was able to help package more than 6,120 pounds of food for 51 families.
The team’s last day was spent at the Fort Street Open Door Ministry which is part of the Fort Street Presbyterian Church. They provide, “food, clothing, showers, computer tutoring and a variety of social services and support referrals” to those in need. While serving in the clothing bank, the team met a man who shared his story of homelessness, which helped all gain a better understanding of the struggle that many face with mental health, drug addiction, and poverty.
Mary Flowers said, “I assumed he worked there, but as we worked, he shared that he was homeless and lived in a tent at the park. He shared his story from being in the military in the 80’s to addiction, and then to homelessness. He shared the pain, regrets, and loneliness of what it is really like being homeless.”
Trish Hubbell, Director of the Open Door Ministry said, “The sharing of personal stories is how we break down barriers and increase understanding. It is what fuels human connection and empathy.”
Alex Vincent said, “This was hard work, but seeing the faces and reactions of the people we were there to serve was amazing.”
The First Presbyterian Church plans to continue mission trips like these as well as increase their volunteer efforts in the community.
Submitted by Christina Flowers