GENEVA – Thirteen teens from St. Peter Church in Geneva participated in the R.O.C.K. (Reaching out in Christian Kindness) mission trip by serving the poverty-stricken in urban Cincinnati, Ohio.
The 2013 R.O.C.K. mission trip team was selected last fall.
The team prepared for the trip over the course of several months by conducting meetings and engaging in service projects and fundraising efforts.
According to a news release, serving the homeless in Cincinnati was eye-opening for many of the students.
In the release, Cara Birschbach, a junior at Geneva High School, said this trip changed her perspective on the homeless.
“They’re just trying to get through the day, get a shower, food or a bed,” Birschbach said. “They are looking for work. I gained respect for them when I saw the difficulties they have to face each day.”
Over the course of a week, the group painted for an elderly woman and sealed walls in a low-income housing project; they worked with Matthew 25 Ministries, an operation that offers emergency aid all over the world; they prepared and served lunch for the homeless; and they served at Rose Garden, a pro-life ministry that provides food to needy families.
According to the release, the Rose Garden, which is run by the Franciscan Daughters of Mary, serves between 300 and 700 people a day.
In addition to home projects and volunteer work, the group visited a day care center for infants and toddlers of teen mothers and a kindergarten through fourth grade after- school program.
They also spent time with families at Ronald McDonald House.
The teens were accompanied by four chaperones, one of which – Lara Barnes – was a member of St. Peter’s first R.O.C.K. mission team in 2008.
“I had a great time on that trip – it was life-changing,” Barnes said in the release. “Now I want to help kids have that same type of experience. That is our job as chaperones – to help teens get the most they can out of the trip.”
Barnes enjoyed spending time with a group of retired nuns, who she said in the release, “were the sweetest people in the whole world ... .”
When Birschbach was asked if she would recommend the trip to her peers, Birschbach said: “Definitely. It’s something you can’t explain with words; you need to experience it.”
The students who went on the trip included Cara Birschbach, Sam Wulfkuhle, Emily Wrenn, Cheyenne Vieau, Mary Kate Stanfa, Lyle Stalter, Becca Spitzig, Alexa Orlando, Erin O’Dea, Kellen Kane, Angelie Humbert and Nicole Collins, all of Geneva High School; and Marie Bliss of St. Francis High School.
The chaperones included Steve and Mary Kay Rogers of Geneva, Cathy Wulfkuhle of Geneva and Lara Barnes of Glendale Heights.