Friday, June 21, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Empowering Moments

I stood in the hallway at the Oklahoma Press Association convention last weekend and listened as a fellow journalist apologized to a group of college students.

They had just come out of a roundtable discussion, designed to give “veteran” journalists a chance to share nuggets of wisdom with the next generation.

My colleague apologized for the tone of the discussion, which he said sounded like “you young whippersnappers, this is how.....”

I shook my head, frustrated at, yet again, how some adults write off today’s youth and young adults with one general statement.

Yes, I know there are a few bad “apples” in every generation; students who make unwise choices, which lead to unfortunate consequences.

But then you hear about a group of students who choose to make a difference. Who chose to be leaders rather than followers.

This week, I was inspired and challenged by the group of senior high youth representing the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The 70+ students and adult sponsors are in Grove this week lending a hand to neighbors in need.

Some are working on roofs, cleaning gutters, while others are digging holes and building wheelchair ramps.

Regardless of the weather, the students (who range in age from rising ninth grade to recent high school graduates) are working together as a team to make a difference.

Instead of staying home, watching hours of TV or hanging out with friends at the mall, these students are instead choosing to work. Remember Monday’s stormy weather? They were out in it, working. Their leaders said they actually finished more than two-thirds of the planned projects on the first day, despite the steady rain.

Personally, I think it’s pretty cool.

On a side note, I also think it’s cool that First UMC-Grove stepped in when asked and became a “living center” site for the work team.

As someone who has taken students on trips like this, sometimes hosting is, well, a wee bit stressful—especially when you have a leader set off the building’s alarm, causing a visit from the town’s finest, to make sure you are really supposed to be there. (For the record, it wasn’t my fault: painters had covered a sensor earlier in the day. But boy, did it make for a great “memory” for the kids on the trip.)

Kudos to the church for stepping up and showing some of the famous “Grove hospitality” I keep witnessing around town.

Think the Texas students are a one-time occurrence? Think again.

On Monday, a group of young adults connected with Bike and Build rolled through town, on their way to Bartlesville. The crew left North Carolina on May 17, stopping at various points along the way working with affordable housing agencies like Habitat for Humanity.

The bikers planned to work Tuesday and Wednesday in Bartlesville, before hitting the road again, angling toward their July 23 arrival in San Diego, Calif.

Forget the expense of biking across country for 10 weeks, each participant also had to raise $4,500 to help fund the work of Bike and Build.

But that’s still not the end.

As you read this on Friday, a group of Free Will Baptist students from North Carolina are planning to spend most of the day at the Christian Help Center cleaning, organizing and defrosting freezers.

Just what you wanted to do on a Friday during the summer, right?

Here’s to a new generation of students, willing to roll up their sleeves, git dirty and make a difference. May your inspiration and sweat equity cause ripple effects far beyond your wildest dreams.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at kaylea.hutson@grovesun.com or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the June 21, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun.

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