About 30 members of Faith Church of Grayslake are working out the final details of how they will spend a week this spring in New Orleans, Louisiana. Their mission is to spend quality time with teenagers there and work at a group home, spreading hope, faith and love to those in need.
The group, a mix of adults, college students, teenagers and pre-teens will caravan for a day and a half to their destination, where they will spend time with LAMB Ministries in helping inner city kids who may be struggling.
"The support systems for the kids in New Orleans is struggling," said Alaina Bowman, the family ministry program director at Faith. "Especially since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the school system isn't strong for these kids, and their family support is lacking as well."
The teens from Faith will spend after-school time playing games and talking with the kids, hoping to form a bond that will help the teens make positive and productive choices for their futures.
Bowman said they have followed up with some of the students they have connected with in the past who are now enrolled in college and excelling in life.
"A lot of lessons can't be learned in the classroom," she said. "This is really good for the students on this trip. They realize not only how good they have it back at home, but also that they have the responsibility to serve and help those in need."
The group will also help work with Project Lazarus, an assisted living and transitional facility for AIDS and HIV patients.
There the mission team will play board games with the residents and "really just spend quality time with the people there."
A Family's Mission to Serve
This is the third year a group from Faith Church embarks on this mission. It's the first for the Keaskowski family of Round Lake Beach. Kim, her husband Jason and three children ages 14, 12 and 9 join the caravan heading south.
"We are really looking forward to this," said Kim. "My husband and I have always wanted to do this kind of trip and we feel the kids are at a perfect age for it."
The family have been members of the church for more than a decade. Kim, a special education teacher at Grayslake North High School said her children don't seem to mind missing their spring break to help others, in fact they are very excited about it, working at the church concession stand and parent's night out and soliciting support for the trip from family and friends.
"I think they are really excited to meet people and do the work that needs to be done," Keaskowski said. "This is such a great chance for the kids to see how fortunate they are, and be with a group who is sharing in the mission of helping those in need."
The work for the trip has already begun. Bowman said they are working to train members who are going, and to prepare them for what to expect. "It's really important that our team sit down and talk with the people and get to know what they really need from us."
When you walk in their shoes, she said, you really get to know where they are coming from.
The group is still fundraising for the March 23 trip. You can help by making donations to the New Orleans 2013 Mission Team at Faith Church at 954 West Brae Loch Grayslake, IL 60030 or by calling 847-223-6249.