In 2009 and 2015, Delmar’s RPM youth group went to Washington, D.C. to minister to the homeless; in 2012, they travelled to Grand Rapids in Iowa to help with flood disaster relief; in 2016, to New Jersey to help after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast.
On March 18, the group will be raising money for a 2017 trip to Chicago, where they hope to work with a faith-based organization that provides opportunities for service, learning, and leadership development in urban settings.
The RPM youth group is a Christian ecumenical (multi-denominational) youth group sponsored by Delmar Reformed Church, Delmar Presbyterian, and the First United Methodist of Delmar. While most RPM members belong to one of those three churches, according to the group’s leader, Beth Gould, many others come from other churches or with friends and do not have home church.
“Community service is one of the main focuses of this group and we volunteer locally throughout the year,” she said.
RPM is open any student in grades 9-12 and meets once a week for small group discussions, programs and games. They hold weekend retreats and recreational outings focused on the service aspect of faith in community and church projects. Every year a large group of RPM students go on a mission trip to serve others during their spring break.
“My experience last year was transformational,” said Fiona McSharry, a sophomore at Bethlehem High. “I had never felt like I made an impact like I did on the mission trip. This year I am looking forward to working in such an interesting city and hopefully having another great experience.”
According to the DOOR Network, through their “Discover” program the youth group will stay at a local church and spend four days serving with a variety of local agencies and ministries, as well as learning through evening speakers and activities. “The experience is about more than preparing a meal at a soup kitchen or playing with children at a day camp,” says the organization’s website. “It is an opportunity to work alongside local community members, to learn from local leaders, and to listen to the stories of neighbors, clients, and churches.”
Gould said that service opportunities will include, “volunteering in an elderly care center, where we will interact with senior citizens of differing abilities through playing games, participating in crafts, and sharing stories; doing urban gardening throughout the city, where will prepare garden alongside neighborhood stakeholders; help out at a local church that is committed to being peacemakers in their neighborhood parks; and work at an outreach center that provides opportunities for us to serve in the three shelters of their homeless prevention program: a daycare facility, a free store, and a soup kitchen.”
“Each year we have between 40-60 total people that go on the trip,” said Gould. This year, “we have 36 students attending the trip and 10 chaperones. The chaperones include myself, parents of students, former youth group members who are now adults, and one of our pastors.”
The youth group will be holding the fundraiser for their annual mission trip at Delmar Reformed Church on Saturday, March 18, from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will feature a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and coffee, along with music by The Sacandaga String Band. Tickets will cost $15 per person or $25 per couple.