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Teens Clean River, Change World



Can you change the world by pulling up some weeds? Well it depends on who's doing the pulling. For one group of folks from a United Methodist church in Mesa, Arizona&ellipsis; the weeds are just the beginning. Allysa Adams watched them work.

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(Locator: Mesa, Arizona)

The overgrowth is thick.

The roots are deep.

Volunteer: "It's hard. I'm sweating a lot."

&ellipsis;and it's hot.

Volunteer: "It's what, probably 90 degrees out here right now."

But this group from the Red Mountain United Methodist Church in Mesa, Arizona has a few goals. The first&ellipsis;

&ellipsis;clean up this recreation area near the Salt River.

The second goal is a little loftier.

Brook Payne: "Well we're saving the world."

This volunteer project is just one of a half dozen the church is undertaking on the United Methodist Change the World weekend.

John Durkin, Youth Director, Red Mountain United Methodist Church: "Tonto National Forest is short staffed and our group was allowed to come clean it up so they can open it to the public."

And for the young adults who are at the other end of these shovels...this is right up their path-- to God.

Maddie Knowles, 18: "One of my favorite quotes is 'Sitting in church on a Sunday makes you as much of a Christian as standing in a garage makes you a car.'"

Maddie Knowles says serving others strengthens her faith.

Maddie Knowles: "We're doing something that not only have we learned in church but we're actually going out to participate in these activities that we've been told are so good to do in God's eyes and good to do for ourselves and others in our community."

Jared Cummings, 21: "I think this is what a church should be. We shouldn't just only be listening and doing stuff only on Sundays. We should be doing this all the time you know, always being active and doing God's work."

Jared Cummings just got home from college. For him this is a chance to meet with friends and really get to know his church.

Jared Cummings: "And so it's nice to do good projects where you get to hang out with everyone and work together in stuff like this."

That's not to say it's easy to stay motivated.

Volunteer: "Those big weeds you guys, the best thing you can do it just chop it like this with these shovels."

But with small successes&ellipsis;and steady progress&ellipsis;in just a few hours they are done.

And the forest service comes in for a final sweep.

Leader: "Very proud of it. They've done an outstanding job. The place looks 100 percent better."

In one morning they've transformed the landscape, and maybe themselves a little, too.


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Posted: July 3, 2012