Newtown Ecumenical Workcamp Servants (NEWS) returned to a well-known routine final weekend, marking one other post-pandemic step for the neighborhood.
NEWS campers, chaperones, alumni and supporters all convened for the group’s fundraising breakfast on March 11. Roughly 200 individuals gathered in The Nice Room of Newtown Congregational Church (NCC), for breakfast, raffles, and heartfelt testimonials from workcampers and chaperones.
It was the primary time since March 2020 that NEWS was capable of current the breakfast, the biggest annual occasion supplied to boost funds for workcamp. The occasion helps cowl the price of transportation, supplies, and chaperone tuition. NEWS is in its twenty ninth yr of internet hosting mission journeys.
By late Saturday morning, dozens of individuals had loved a full breakfast. If anybody left hungry, it was not the fault of the organizers, who had offered a sizzling breakfast of scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage and potatoes.
Moreover, small plates of reduce melon had been positioned at every seat together with platters of Danish whereas urns stuffed with espresso had been supplied to each desk by this yr’s workcampers. Scorching tea, juice and water had been additionally accessible.
The workcampers acted as servers and runners all morning, whereas NCC Males’s Membership members cooked a lot of the meals as friends arrived. Suggestions left at tables raised funds for the group, as did the sale of raffle tickets.
Thirty-one younger adults and 12 chaperones might be heading in late June to Kentucky, the place they are going to work with Appalachia Service Mission (ASP) to make properties hotter, safer, and drier for residents there.
On Saturday, lots of those that have been on earlier journeys supplied transient however heartfelt testimonials about their experiences. Every spoke from the guts, providing private tales that touched on their motive for changing into concerned within the workcamp program. Themes of assembly and befriending others, progress, bonds, respect and tolerance, and household had been frequent amongst most of the audio system.
‘A Nice Expertise’
Brendan Connors was among the many first to talk. He’s in his third yr of workcamp, he stated, and referred to as this system “an incredible expertise.
“We see the opposite facet of the world,” he continued. “I’m grateful to be able to assist others.”
Alumni Jonathan Ingersoll stated he realized lots about himself and his neighborhood by taking part in NEWS.
“It’s superb how a lot you study your self, and one other neighborhood, in only a week,” Ingersoll stated. “These individuals welcomed us into their lives with open arms.”
Ellie Mouchantat, who was a workcamper for 4 years and is now in her third yr as a chaperone, additionally spoke Saturday morning. NEWS and its work, she stated, “is a lot greater than the work that has to get finished. It’s additionally in regards to the individuals.”
She talked a couple of lady she and her group labored with one yr, once they did house repairs for a single mom with two youngsters “in very difficult situations,” Mouchantat stated. “We may see the change in her as our week went on. Her life was bettering due to what we did.
“The scholars actually embrace all they’ll do. I’m excited for this yr and what our youngsters will expertise with ASP once more,” she stated.
Ben Rosenthal stated he couldn’t suggest this system sufficient.
Rosenthal recalled taking part in workcamp two years in the past, when COVID restrictions meant NEWS couldn’t exit of the state as initially deliberate. As a substitute, teams went to properties in Bridgewater to assist residents with smaller tasks.
“We helped a girl who merely needed to have her desk repaired so her youngsters may play on it,” he stated.
Rosenthal was additionally a part of final yr’s NEWS journey which, after two postponements, lastly traveled to Puerto Rico.
“Serving to individuals and seeing individuals with smiles on their face,” he stated, “it’s very huge to have the ability to expertise that. It’s rewarding past something you may think about.”
Highly effective First Impressions
NEWS Advisory Board member Jen Tousignant stated the expansion of every camper is “super.”
“They actually work nicely collectively,” she stated of the younger adults. “The extent of collaboration, they display it in spades. The communities are superb, however our youngsters are much more so.”
Mike Mandarano, who’s chaperoning for the fifteenth time this yr, stated seeing the work websites will be emotional, “particularly the primary time seeing a few of the properties.” He shared a narrative of a go to he and two workcampers made to a house years in the past, when the kids had been first uncovered to dwelling situations of impoverished individuals.
“They had been very quiet as they appeared round this home, after which they went exterior whereas I used to be nonetheless wanting round with the home-owner,” he stated. “I discovered them a short while later, sitting collectively within the again seat of our work van. They had been sobbing.”
Mandarano referred to as this system “a well-oiled machine.” Younger adults and chaperones all study, yearly, about themselves and the world, he stated.
“My DNA has modified due to this,” he stated. “I can not cease going.
“Belief me,” he added, addressing the mother and father within the room. “Your youngsters are good. We see how these youngsters are on these journeys, and the way good they’re once they’re away from house. They could not allow you to see it, however I promise you: you might be elevating nice youngsters.”
Returning emcee Jay Edwards stored the occasion shifting, from welcoming remarks and the opening prayer to breakfast, testimonials, raffle drawings, and a Benediction.
Whereas a lot of the eye was on the workcampers, Edwards made some extent of elevating a spherical of applause for NEWS chaperones.
“These of us lead by instance,” he stated.
He additionally supplied a reminder for the morning’s goal.
“This occasion actually helps the work and ministry of this program,” he stated. “It is a key method to fund our younger adults, who can have a transformative week.”
NCC Senior Pastor Matt Crebbin supplied a gap prayer and later a Benediction. Forward of the second prayer, greater than 30 raffle tickets had been drawn, sending winners house with reward baskets and certificates from native eating places, companies, and different NEWS supporters. The ultimate ticket was for a 50-50 raffle, with one fortunate individual heading out with $400.
Choosing up on that theme, Crebbin opened his Benediction by joking that “we don’t all the time win what we wish,” which drew fun throughout the room.
“Everybody right here this morning is a winner, although, since you’re right here at present and we thanks for that,” he stated.
Managing Editor Shannon Hicks will be reached at [email protected].
Thirty-one younger adults are taking part on this yr’s Newtown Ecumenical Workcamp Servants mission journey. The primary fundraising breakfast since March 2020 was celebrated final weekend at Newtown Congregational Church. A part of the occasion is the introduction of every camper, adopted by the occasion’s opening prayer. —Bee Photograph, Hicks
Michael Berry focuses on pouring a cup of standard espresso, whereas Griffin Model relaxes for a second with an urn of decaf espresso.
Olivia Bossio-Dotolo was additionally on high of preserving espresso cups stuffed as friends arrived at Newtown Congregational Church Saturday morning.
Ben Rosenthal was certainly one of 20 individuals to share fast testimonials throughout the NEWS fundraising breakfast.
Household, associates, donors and sponsors stuffed The Nice Room of Newtown Congregational Church for 3 hours on March 11, sharing breakfast whereas fundraising for this yr’s mission journey. NEWS might be heading to Kentucky in late June to assist rebuild properties for residents there.