Three high school students from Ferry Memorial Reformed Church in Montague, MI attended Huron Serve in July of 2015.

Sure, they enjoyed getting to know some new Canadian friends and trying poutine for the first time, but they also allowed Serve to change their life in larger ways. Many of the work projects at Huron Serve were in small rural communities. As one student, Seth, experienced working with people in rural poverty, he said, “Serve opened my eyes to see lots of people in need in areas you wouldn’t think there would be a need – in a small town”. A freshman, Cecilia, adds, “I didn’t realize so many people were in need”.

Huron Serve encouraged students and leaders to look at the world through someone else’s eyes and to build relationships with those they came to work alongside. The youth leader, Mike, appreciated this aspect of Serve. “I thought I was helping others before (in other service projects), but it was more about making me feel good about myself, not thinking about how they feel”. Seth agreed that treating someone with dignity and getting to know them is important, and he says, “It is more than giving someone on the street a bottled water, it is sitting down and drinking water with a person.”

A senior (now a college Freshman), Lauren’s, experience with Serve was one reason she changed her major from English to Social Work. She has always had a big heart for people on the margins, but her experiences at Serve working with homeless and people living on the edge of poverty helped her realize what she really wanted to do.

As a leader, I am enthusiastic about my Serve experience. I took three quiet, introverted students with prayerful confidence that they would be enfolded by their small group teams and find a place to belong and to serve. I appreciate that the the Serve experiences I have been on emphasized a relationship with God at the core of all we do – including serving others. We are encouraged to treat all people with dignity and respect. The feeling wasn’t that the volunteers come with answers or even with “help”, but that we work together; in fact, getting to know someone and hearing their story may be the “help” that we both need most.