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The largest annual fundraiser for Newtown Ecumenical Workcamp Servants (NEWS) was celebrated last weekend, when young adults and many of their chaperones hosted a large breakfast event for friends, family, sponsors, and local clergy.
“Faith Anchors The Soul” was the theme of the morning, held again in The Great Room of Newtown Congregational Church. The NCC Men’s Club cooked up the breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and sausage, served by the workcampers who plan to be in Biloxi, Miss., June 24 to July 1. In addition, plates of breakfast sweets — mini muffins, croissants, and Danish — and cups of cut fruit had been set on each table for guests to enjoy as they arrived. Coffee, ice water, and orange juice flowed steadily.
The event included raffles of gift baskets and a 50-50 offering, with proceeds from ticket sales added to other donations that will help cover the cost of travel, supplies, and other fees incurred by the group when it spends a week helping homeowners in the Gulf Coast city with needed home repairs. Jobs on previous trips have included framing, roofing, installing drywall, painting, installing cabinetry, and other construction and landscaping projects.
Guests on Saturday did not pay an admission to attend the breakfast. Instead, they were encouraged to “tip” their servers; those funds will be added to the growing account that will help cover the costs for this year’s service trip.
A group of 40 young adults ranging from eighth grade to high school seniors will be participating in the 2018 NEWS trip. The tweens and teens represent Christ the King Lutheran Church, Congregation Adath Israel, Newtown Congregational Church, and St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, according to chaperone and NEWS advisory board member Jerry Cole.
The group will be working with Back Bay Mission, based in Biloxi. More than ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the mission — which has been helping those in the generally low- and moderate-income city for more than nine decades — continues to help residents recover from the historic devastation of that 2005 storm, as well as the BP oil spill two years later.
Workcampers, it was explained in literature shared during Saturday’s event, will learn that God has given them the ability to give more than they ever realized. Not only will they be able to give their time and talents, but they will also learn how blessed their own lives really are.
Many of the workcampers are returning for second, third, and even fourth service trips. Brief testimonials were shared Saturday morning, with young adults and chaperones telling the packed room some of their favorite memories from previous workcamps.
Returning workcampers spoke of how it “felt good to help others,” the joy they felt at “transforming homes and yards, and then seeing the homeowners happy at the end of the week,” and “building relationships with each other.”
One young lady pointed out that “each trip is so different,” even when NEWS returns to the same city a few times.
For the chaperones, it was “great growth witnessed in the young adults” that stood out for one speaker.
Dale Mello has chaperoned a number of NEWS groups. She has also served as a chaperone for college age workcampers, and traveled with fellow adult workcampers, repeatedly visiting Biloxi, where NCC had been sending groups since 2006, sometimes more than once each year.
One of the final testimonial speakers, Ms Mello closed her testimonial by saying, “You always leave gaining more than what you gave.”