Last March in our Pemiscot County mission in Missouri, I got on a school bus with about ten teens from the area along with several adults, and two Glenmary Sisters. Our destination? Memphis, Tennessee, a ninety- minute drive south. Why, you may ask, were we all on a bus together travelling to Memphis? Simple—to take some youth from our mission to a professional basketball game. It was a game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Many of the young people we work with in the small town of Steele, Missouri love basketball. They are at the park most days shooting hoops, talking about their favorite teams and players, and discussing whose team is better. If you spend much time with them, you will find two important things about them. One, if you just sit and talk, they are some of the nicest, most sincere people you could ever hope to meet. Second, many of them have not had an opportunity to travel outside their area very much. Seeing them year after year, we began thinking of a way to help these teens do something many of them have not had a chance to do.
It all began with several generous donations designated specially for this trip. The bus, game tickets, and food all cost a significant amount of money that isn’t in the Glenmary budget. After that was secured, a lot of planning and logistic obstacles were overcome such as permissions forms, health forms, and all the fun “legal stuff” that comes with a trip like this. But, in the end it all worked out just fine with no problems.
For me, the thing that sticks out in my mind about the trip is just how quiet the teens were on the way there but how lively they were on the return trip. Overhearing them talking to one another about how great the trip was and how much fun they had made all the planning worthwhile.
We plan to take youth from our mission on another adventure in 2020. Sister Sharon is already working on some different guidelines for them to earn their ticket. She will be talking with school counselors to make sure the teachers can help with measuring their progress. She’s also hoping to add a community service component to the list. We believe it’s important for them to learn about setting and achieving goals. A lesson that will be very beneficial to their future.
If you would like to make a donation toward a youth program, please know it will be put to good use for some very deserving teens.