For the second consecutive summer, Ben’s Lighthouse will bring about 20 Newtown high schoolers across the country to assist the victims of a massive natural disaster. From July 27 to August 2, this volunteer group of teens and chaperones will participate in projects to clean up and rebuild from the unprecedented flooding that took at least eight lives and destroyed 2,000 homes last September.
The trip is open to Newtown youth who are completing grade 8 through grade 12 this spring. Anyone interested in participating on this trip is invited to attend an information and signup session on Sunday, May 18. It will begin at 5 pm, and will take place at Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street.
An equal number of male and female participants will be chosen by lottery from among those who sign up. Funds for the trip are being raised by Ben’s Lighthouse, so it is expected that there will be little or no cost to the participants. (To make a contribution to support this endeavor, visit benslighthouse.org.)
The group will stay and work in and around the town of Fort Collins, located about 30 minutes north of Denver. From September 9 to 15, 2013, that area received at least a foot of rain, with some locations receiving close to 17 inches in seven days. The destruction caused by such enormous amounts of water in such a short time was devastating. Many local roads and highways were wiped out and some communities were completely cut off. While basic infrastructure has been restored in some places, it will take years to fully recover. Help is greatly needed.
The Newtown group can expect to participate in projects ranging from home and yard cleanup and painting to demolition and roof repair. The work will be assigned by relief agencies in the area and will not be known until arrival. If appropriate, the group may also visit Columbine and/or Aurora to share experiences related to healing after tragedy.
Last year, a Ben’s Lighthouse group traveled to Moore, Okla., to help with the recovery from the devastation caused by massive tornados. Traveling with the motto “Helping Is Healing,” the group consisted of 19 teens, many of whom had never met until shortly before the trip, along with five chaperones. The travel, the sparse accommodations, the work and the group conversations quickly formed very tight bonds among all the participants.
“On Sunday we were a group of strangers,” remarked one of the chaperones about the travel day. “By Tuesday we were family.”
While in the area, the group visited the memorial to the 1985 Oklahoma City bombing and met with families who lost children in the Moore tornado.
Six months after the trip, the group reunited and shared stories of the friendships that were formed and the internal confidence that blossomed as a result of the week of helping.
For further information prior to the May 18 meeting, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.