June 30, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer
At the Parkville Senior Center, there are several small, handwritten
signs that say "wet paint" in the women's bathroom -
evidence that volunteers from the Greater Hartford Youth Network
had been at work in the city this week.
The youth network brought
about 100 adults and teens to Hartford this week from seven
suburban churches to volunteer at sites and agencies in need
of help as part of "The Hartford Project."
The bathroom was recently
painted by members of "The Hartford
Project," which is a volunteer effort sponsored by the youth
network. The program, which began Sunday and runs through today,
is modeled on a similar program in Boston.
On Wednesday, 10 young adults from Wintonbury Baptist Church
in Bloomfield worked at the Parkville Senior Center, reupholstering
chairs and stocking shelves. Other groups helped paint portions
of the women's bathroom. The teens also spent time with the seniors
Adam Wittenberg of Hartford is one of the adult leaders from
the Wintonbury Church, and hopes that the good work that the
students are doing now will pay off in the future.
"One of my hopes is that this seed will lead to a harvest
in later years," he said.
Rebecca Burger, 14, a volunteer
from Vernon, said, "It
feels good helping people because it's not all about yourself."
For many of the students, this was their first time participating
in the program. They all plan to continue in community service
once the program ends.
Josh Strecker, worksite coordinator for the Greater Hartford
Youth Network, said that since last year, the project has grown,
increasing participation from 50 to 55 students to 85.
"Jesus loves people in the city too, and we want to show
them that by working with them," he said.
Today, the youth network plans to hold a picnic in Waverly Park
for city residents that will feature free food, as well as free
clothes and free haircuts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public is
invited to attend. Last year's picnic was a success, Strecker
said, he hopes it will be today as well.
"Last year, every single hot dog was gone," he
The youth network is composed of about 100 teens from churches
from the Hartford area. The churches involved are Wintonbury
Baptist, Valley Community Baptist Church in Avon, Trinity Tariffville
Church in the Tariffville section of Simsbury, Covenant Presbyterian
Church from Simsbury, Christ Community Presbyterian Church from
West Hartford and Trinity Covenant Church of Manchester.
This year's sites for The Hartford Project included the Parkville
Senior Center, Peter's Retreat, a residential center for AIDS
patients, South Park Inn Menu, a homeless shelter, Marshall House,
a homeless shelter for women and children and Youth Challenge,
a faith-based program that helps people with substance abuse
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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