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Rock Youth group helps Arkansas community recover from April storm

Ellie Vanasse, Cori Amell and Katie Berg with a young man from another church group.

Teenagers are sometimes unfairly generalized to be lazy, self-absorbed and oblivious the world around them.

Those labels don't apply to the teens in the Rock Youth Group.

Every year, the Rock Youth Group - based out of St. Anne's Church in Somerset - goes on a mission trip somewhere in the United States. This year, they elected to go to Boonesville, Ark. for one week starting Saturday, June 18.

Seventeen teens and four adults went down to help the 4,117-population community - 18 percent of which live below the poverty level - paint homes, work in thrift stores and help with Vacation Bible School.

During an ice cream and punch reception Saturday, July 16, at St. Anne's Church, several of the Youth members reported on the mission trip to friends and family.

"We had a 'Kids Club' for the 5-9 year olds," said Ellie Vanasse. "There were three stations: reading, craft and sports."

Some of the youth said they were surprised how quickly the local children took to them.

"I worked with the Kids Club and there was a little girl who just walked over to me and sat on my lap," said Katie Berg. "It was really cool."

"During VBS (vacation Bible school) there was a little kid named Cutter and he just wanted to sit in my lap the whole time," recalled Kaitlyn Bauer. "It just got to me that maybe he didn't get that much attention at home."

Other teens said they felt good helping out people in need.

"I was painting a house for this woman named Mary," began Adam Marty. "Her husband was suffering from dementia. She was extremely nice to us. She'd come out every 15 minutes to see if we needed anything."

"I worked at the tornado relief site," said Stephanie Berg, referring to the April tornados that touched down in the community. "We pulled floorboards at an old church so they could rebuild."

The teens showed a slide presentation of the trip to the group. Many of the photos showed the teens working alongside community members, smiling and laughing.

"We went to serve the community of Booneville and to deepen our own faith," summarized Berg. "That was our goal."

Sara Measner, adult leader of the Rock Youth Group and one of the chaperones for the trip, said she was amazed at how well the teens handled the situation.

"They worked so hard and it was amazing the way they grew," said Measner. "I think just getting away and helping people allows you to get a better view of things."

The Rock Youth Group holds fundraisers such as a dinner and show and a garage sale to raise money for the annual mission trips. Donations are always accepted.

For more information about the Rock Youth Group, contact St. Anne's Church at 715-247-3310.