Guest Contributor: Marilyn Larviere
Marilyn Lariviere is the coordinator of Youth StreetReach, a program in which children from church youth groups and school community-service clubs provide breakfast and collect clothes for the homeless half a dozen times per year.
Reading the newspaper and looking for “good news” can sometimes be a challenge. Maybe it’s because no one takes the time to really observe some of the things that happen every day in our community. But small miracles do happen on a daily basis if we take the time to look for them. This is a story of how people can make a difference.
Over the winter, 54 headstones in the small cemetery in back of the Federated Church on Main Street in Hyannis were tipped over by vandals. We don’t know who did this or why, but that isn’t the important part of the story.
On Easter Sunday I looked out and saw some individuals in the cemetery. At first I thought it was the vandals returning to finish the job in broad daylight! But then I looked again and saw that it was a group of nine people from the NOAH shelter who were working hard at repairing the damage that had been caused earlier. What a way to celebrate a “resurrection” moment! It was not easy work, but they managed to complete it, before returning to sign in at NOAH for a bed that night.
Many of these folks regularly attend our Youth StreetReach breakfasts held six times a year at the church. This program provides youth from area churches and schools the opportunity to work with and for the homeless in a community setting.
The mission statement for Youth StreetReach is: “To integrate education, worship, and outreach in order to make youth more aware of injustice and to respect the dignity of all people, especially the lonely, lost, and disenfranchised.” It is pretty obvious that if people are treated with dignity, they usually will respond accordingly. Our breakfasts are always times to learn from one another.
At our April breakfast, Scott, the leader of the group who had done the work, shared that his mother was buried in that cemetery. He talked to some of his friends at NOAH and convinced them to spend some time working together in the cemetery. So they came on Easter and while choirs were singing and people were praying, this little band was out there working and making a difference.
No one told them to do this. It wasn’t anything suggested by the staff at the NOAH shelter. In fact no one even knew that they did it, except for those who happened to see them that morning. Clearly they wanted to give a little something back to the community that supports them. So enjoy this bit of “good news” and say thanks to our friends from NOAH if you see them.