Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

Donkin-Morien stu­dent part of Light­house Church’s hu­man­i­tar­ian work

Cape Breton Post - - Community Connections - Yvonne Kennedy

For the past few months much of our at­ten­tion has been fo­cused on the men­tal well-be­ing of our young peo­ple.

There are many groups in our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties work­ing each and ev­ery day to im­prove the phys­i­cal, emo­tional and spir­i­tual health of our young stu­dents.

One such or­ga­ni­za­tion is the Light­house Church and Un­der­cur­rent Youth Cen­tre in Glace Bay.

The Light­house Church gives the youth in our area a sense of be­long­ing as they seek spir­i­tu­al­ity in their lives.

Light­house is a rel­a­tively new faith com­mu­nity that opened in Novem­ber 2005. For the past 12 years, Pas­tor Dave Sawler and his wife Shirley have wel­comed peo­ple of ev­ery de­nom­i­na­tion to wor­ship.

At a time when many churches have closed their doors due to de­clin­ing en­rol­ment, the Light­house Church is flour­ish­ing and is at­tract­ing a younger gen­er­a­tion of church­go­ers.

As part of the youth min­istry, Light­house Church op­er­ates the Un­der­cur­rent Youth Cen­tre to cater to the needs of our youth.

One of the mem­bers of the Light­house Church is a stu­dent from Donkin-Morien School — Evan Bil­lard is a young man with a keen in­ter­est in help­ing the less for­tu­nate.

For the past 10 years, this faith com­mu­nity has been in­volved in hu­man­i­tar­ian work in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. The mis­sion trips ex­ist to give peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to serve oth­ers.

Each par­tic­i­pant learns to be­come a per­son who is in­volved in mak­ing changes in the lives of the poor, ne­glected and needy in our world.

To get an un­der­stand­ing of the health and so­cial sit­u­a­tion in the Sousa re­gion of this im­pov­er­ished coun­try, they vis­ited an or­phan­age, a school and a preg­nancy cen­tre. Then the group mem­bers rolled up their sleeves to help build four houses for lo­cal fam­i­lies so that they could have a bet­ter stan­dard of liv­ing.

For the par­tic­i­pants, the trip was a life-changing ex­pe­ri­ence. Th­ese vol­un­teers be­came part of a team that ex­pe­ri­enced the hard­ships and day-to-day strug­gles faced by many peo­ple in the world.

The vol­un­teers are usu­ally ages 16 and up. They make ex­cep­tions for younger par­tic­i­pants if they are trav­el­ling with a guardian. Evan was only 12 so he con­vinced his ma­ter­nal grand­mother Lynn Bil­lard to go with him on the trip. His grand­mother be­longs to the Gio­vanetti fam­ily that is very well-known in the Port Morien area.

The cost of the trip must be raised by each par­tic­i­pant. This young man worked hard to raise all the money him­self so that he could broaden his view of the world.

The cost of the trip was $1,999 and he de­vised a fundrais­ing plan.

He or­ga­nized a suc­cess­ful yard sale, col­lected bot­tles for re­cy­cling and held a lob­ster draw.

So why did this young stu­dent want to de­vote his time, en­ergy and money to go on the Light­house Church hu­man­i­tar­ian trip? “I wanted to go on this trip to help the less for­tu­nate in any way that I could,” said Bil­lard. “I re­al­ize that I am only young but I feel that ev­ery lit­tle bit of help makes a dif­fer­ence. The trip made me re­al­ize that there are many peo­ple in the world who are home­less and have very few ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions.

“The peo­ple that we helped were very thank­ful for all our work. The ex­pe­ri­ence made me re­al­ize how for­tu­nate I re­ally am to be liv­ing in Canada.”

Th­ese words ring so true. Even the poor­est fam­ily in Canada has a bet­ter life than some of th­ese fam­i­lies. Evan Bil­lard will con­tinue to share his ex­pe­ri­ences in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic and will carry th­ese mem­o­ries for a life­time.

Let me con­clude with the words of the great hu­man­i­tar­ian, Al­bert Sch­weitzer: “The pur­pose of hu­man life is to serve and show com­pas­sion and the will to help oth­ers.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Light­house Church in Glace Bay or­ga­nized a hu­man­i­tar­ian trip to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic where Cape Bre­ton­ers helped build houses.

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