Last year I was thinking that I needed to volunteer somewhere. But where would that be? I currently work three 12 hour shifts at a hospital in Sacramento and I live 4 hours away from there in a town called McArthur. I find it difficult to volunteer because of my crazy schedule and traveling back and forth. However, my son, Ryan was planning a youth mission trip with his group at our church in McArthur, CA. I am able to get time off work, so this could work for me. He was asking for adult volunteers to help drive the kids to the Bay area for Spirit West Coast and then to Sacramento to volunteer. I decided to help out. I always volunteered for my kids’ trips when they were growing up, so I thought it would be fun!
Going on the trip
In June 2017, we packed up the kids for a mission trip to Sacramento! That was kind of strange since I still go there to work, but there’s always need everywhere. As a group we visited 3 different sites. The first one was a Methodist Church that had a food pantry. We were there the day before they opened the pantry, so we helped to sort the food. We filled ziplock bags with cereal, rice etc. The next day we went to Loaves and Fishes. They help many people every day with meals, lodging and more. We helped with the landscaping. It was great to spend time outside. The last day was at a warehouse for the Salvation Army. We sorted food that was donated into big bins. It was a great experience to go on the trip with the teens and we met wonderful people along the way that are serving their community. I had a lot of fun also. I hope the kids did too. At the beginning of the week, we attended Spirit West Coast in the Bay Area of Northern CA. That was a great time to relax and enjoy many of the popular Christian bands. The last day before driving the kids back to McArthur, we spent the day at a water park. It’s always a good way to unwind from a busy work trip.
Benefits of Older adults and teens working together
As we age, we should consider volunteering with kids and teens. There are many benefits to both generations. According to the US administration on Aging, our society is aging. In 2030, one in 5 residents will be 65 and older. Let’s look at some of the pros of working together. The 2 benefits for both generations are:
- Provides opportunities for all to learn new skills
- Gives all a sense of purpose
Let’s look at how older adults and teens working together can BENEFIT the TEENS:
- Gives the teens someone to admire. They need to know there are “real heroes” in the world.
- When the teens are hanging out with older adults, it gives the teens a sense of belonging, hope and feelings of security. It makes the teens feel like everything in their lives will be OK.
- Most of the time, teens learn to rely and trust the older adults.
- The older adults help the teens understand who they are by being dependable and trustworthy.
- The older adults can also encourage teens to do and try things that their parents can’t get them to do.
- When older adults work with teens, it helps teens to alleviate fears they have about the elderly. It also helps them understand and accept their own aging.
Now let’s look at how older adults and teens working together can BENEFIT the OLDER ADULTS:
- Helps the older adults to realize that behind the saggy pants and colored hair, the teens are just people too and they don’t need to fear them.
- The teens bring vibrancy to the older adults. Many elderly were losing hope before interacting with youth.
- Usually the older adults receive acceptance and affection from teens. This is enormously valuable.
- As the older adults work with teens, the likelihood of depression decreases.
- As the older adults work with teens, it decreases their isolation. It brings them a sense of purpose and a reason to get up in the morning.
- Helps older adults to broaden their social circles. It helps them to meet more people and there are more interactions between the generations.
- Let’s face it, teens know way more about technology than the older generation. They may learn a thing or two from them that may help them work on their computers or use their iPhone.
Please remember when you are praying and looking for your next opportunity, it may be right in front of you. Go and ask your youth pastor if you can help with the youth on a mission trip or an activity. You never know where God will use you next! Here is a mission organization that just posted their youth mission trips for 2019. Many of the trips are in the US doing home repair. Please visit their site for ideas for teens that you know or are in your church.