Six local teens recently visited Spokane with a purpose.
According to Christina Plum, 18, the teens, from the First Lutheran Church youth group were accompanied by Pastor Brad Ulgenes on a mission trip to help out the less fortunate.
“We had talked about doing a service trip in youth group this year,” she said.
During the trip, the young adults pitched in and helped out with daily life at the shelters.
“We served food, pulled weeds in community gardens, talked to people, cleaned houses and garages and filled over 200 backpacks with school supplies,” said Plum.
At the House of Charity, a Spokane area shelter open to anyone as long as there is room, the teens toured the facility and interacted with the people.
“One gentleman told us his story of how he ended up there, and he was touched to have someone listen to what happened to him,” Plum said. “He was interested and proud to hear that we had plans and goals for our lives. He didn’t want us to end up in his position.”
For Plum the trip was an eye-opening experience.
“Some of the shelters we went to had homeless, abused or handicapped people,” Plum said. “Trips like these show them there’s something to look forward to; that someone wants to help them.”
The impact of seeing first-hand that people remained hopeful despite being homeless or struggling with addiction is something she will remember for a long time.
“To see all the people in bad situations, and they keep going and planning their days, it was really inspirational,” Plum said.
The group learned that just because someone is homeless or has an addiction, it doesn’t mean that they are much different from everyone else.
“The manager of the House of Charity spoke to us about them,” Plum said. “He told us that while we had grown up being told not to talk to the homeless by our parents because they’re scary or dangerous, they’re really not. Our parents were trying to teach us not to talk to strangers, and to use caution when approaching anyone we don’t know.”
Plum is no stranger to community service. She has grown up immersed in service projects such as helping at the Havre Food Bank, the Angel Tree Project, Toys for Tots and Koats for Kids, Adopt a Highway and much more. However, during this service trip, Plum learned a little more about taking time to think about other people’s needs.
“If young people would take just one day in their lives to help the less fortunate, it would improve our world so much,” she said.
“Even donating their clothes to the Salvation Army is doing so much to help someone. I started volunteering when I was 8 years old. Anyone can do it.”
For Plum, a 2010 Havre High School graduate, the future holds more service toward others. She is leaving in February to join the Navy and will be training for 18 months in South Carolina to work with nuclear power.
She is also planning on joining the group for at least one more service trip in the future as well.
“It was something we really enjoyed,” she said. “We would like to go with our youth leaders to Tacoma for another servant trip.”
Local youth group serves Spokane shelters