(Posted July 19, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
With a smile on his face and his teammates cheering him on, Sean Noonan screwed together two pieces of an information kiosk destined for the Little Darby Preserve in Plumwood.
The 15-year-old from Galloway had used a power drill before but was new to the chisel and table saw he used in an earlier phase of the project. His grin was a good indication that he was happy to be picking up new skills. Project organizers were happy to see another young person building an appreciation for serving others.
Noonan was one of 150 high school and college-age youths and adult chaperones who spent July 15-19 completing community service projects at 50 work sites around Madison County. The massive effort, known as Gospel Road, is organized annually through the Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
“It’s a great opportunity to get young people together from all over the 23 counties of the diocese and instill in them a sense of service and giving back to the community,” said Sean Robinson, who works for the diocese’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and served as a team leader during this year’s Gospel Road.
This year marks the second time the diocese has chosen to send the young volunteers to Madison County. The last time was in 2014. Once again, St. Patrick School served as home base for the group. They camped out at the school, sleeping on air mattresses in the gyms and eating food prepared by local volunteers.
Denise Zimmerman, director of family faith formation at St. Patrick Church, coordinated the job sites, gathering ideas from government and social service agencies and soliciting requests from area residents who needed a hand.
Projects ran the gamut, from cleaning gutters and power washing siding for a woman with disabilities to organizing food and clothing donations at HELP House Community Outreach.
“A family in Plain City needed a safe outdoor space where their children could play, so we’re building them a deck,” Zimmerman said during the course of the week.
The youths stained a log cabin, painted classroom doors at Fairhaven School, built a wheelchair ramp at a home in London, and caulked windows and did yardwork for an elderly woman who lives in the country.
“No matter where they were helping out, we prepared them to show dignity and respect to the people they were helping,” Zimmerman said, noting that in many cases, the people being helped were unable physically or financially to do the work themselves.
Organizers also taught the youths to respect each other as they worked in teams and got to know one another.
“We mixed them up on purpose so that no one from the same church was on the same team. That way they came in with no pre-judgements. It seems to work out beautifully. It’s a nice way to do it and they make new friends in the process,” Zimmerman said.
The theme of this year’s Gospel Road was “Be the Heart of the World for God.”