For more than a decade youth from across the country have descended upon Pawhuska to offer a helping hand with minor home repairs and yard work. They are part of a Christian-based, nonprofit ecumenical mission organization called YouthWorks.
Each work group is made up of junior high and high school students, ages 12-19. YouthWorks staff is comprised of college-age young people who oversee the on-site week-long activities for the duration of the summer program. Four YouthWorks staff members have been assigned to Pawhuska.
Last week, 40 youth from Missouri and Kansas began the first of nine weeks of community service. Pawhuska may see upwards of 80 volunteer youth each week during this summer. The groups arrive on a Sunday evening and leave the following Friday morning after working on a variety of projects throughout their stay.
"It’s not unusual to see youth from the Methodist, Nazarene and Baptist working together," says Rev. Ken Woodhams, of the Pawhuska Ministerial Alliance who, along with the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, sponsors the Pawhuska YouthWorks program. "We all belong to the universal church of Jesus Christ which is what we are all about."
Regardless of race and culture, students are challenged to go outside of their comfort zones. Without the distractions of everyday life, communities are served and the lives of thousands of teenagers are impacted by helping others and working together for a common goal.
"Our youth are our future," says Woodhams. "They are doing God’s work now through the YouthWorks program learning to share what they have and to give back to the community."
Created in 1994 by a youth minister in Minneapolis, MN, YouthWorks served two sites by bringing 35 churches together with 400 participants.
By the summer of 2009, YouthWorks was serving 69 communities with 35,000 participants.
Area residents who would like help in cleaning up their yards or possibly minor home repairs are asked to contact YouthWorks through the Ministerial Alliance at 918-287-4040 or Pawhuska Chamber at 918-287-1590.
Residents may also visit the Ministerial Alliance’s offices which are housed at the First Presbyterian Church. A simple application form will need to be completed. Repairs are based on the skill level of the young volunteers. First priority is given to homebound and the elderly.