Youth group cleans up neighborhood streets in Victoria (Video)
April 14, 2012 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated April 13, 2012 at 11:14 p.m.
When Lillian Beaver, 27, went to start her yard work Saturday morning, she was surprised to see a group of teenagers cleaning up leaves in the gutters in front of her house.
The Love Street resident said teenagers are often causing trouble, such as stealing things from out of her garage, so the cleaning crew from Covenant Life Center was a welcome change.
"To see these kids - future adults - out with their parents serving their community makes me proud," Beaver said. "Especially on a Saturday. It's great to see some parents doing a good job and some kids being raised right."
Inspired by Dino Rizzo's book "Servolution," Youth pastor Jeff Rendon and Revolution youth group at Covenant Life Center have started a ministry of cleaning neighborhood streets.
"It's an evolving thing. We come out about once a month," Rendon said. "Our goal is to hit every neighborhood street in the city."
After a short briefing in the youth group clubhouse, about 20 members of Covenant Life Center hit the streets, sweeping the gutters and sidewalks clean of leaves and picking up litter Saturday. The teenagers talked among themselves and socialized as they worked their way down the street.
A separate team goes door-to-door in groups of two or three down the same streets, handing out gift bags with water bottles and snacks and offers to pray with residents.
Returning Revolution member Paige Kutchka, 15, pulled the little red wagon carrying the gift bags.
"We're not asking for anything and we don't take donations," Rendon said. "We're just out to bless people."
The group covers between five and six blocks a week depending on the number of participants. This is their fifth week in operation.
Rendon said they have received positive feedback from the community.
The director of Keep Victoria Beautiful has partnered with the Revolution youth group, providing them with trash bags and places to dump the trash.
The Revolution youth group also partnered with the Victoria Police Department to help clean up a field with lots of litter and trash.
"We hauled about five truck loads of trash out of that field," Rendon said.
A veteran of the Servolution project, Haley Rivera, 17, said it brings her joy to see the smiles on the faces of the people they serve.
"They are generally surprised to see that we don't want anything," Haley said. "We just want to bless them. And we get joy in return."
Haley enjoys being part of the prayer team because she gets first-hand contact with the people they are ministering to.
"Basically when we go out, we share God's love," Haley said. "We are not preaching to them, just giving them hope."
The team has received a variety of responses, Rendon said and many have prayer requests they share.
Many residents are hurting or sick and some have recently lost loved ones, Rendon said.
Saturday morning not very many of the residents were home and wanted prayer.
"We've gotten a couple of responses," said first time participant Rebekah Reha, 15. "I think they were shocked like, 'Really? You want to come and pray with me?'"
When residents are not home or do not have specific prayer requests, the prayer group gathers at the end of their driveway to pray a blessing over their house.
"I think it's fun to bond with other people," Rebekah said. "And maybe if you are a baby in your prayer life, you get to try praying out loud for the first time."
As the ministry grows, they plan to bring equipment to help elderly or disabled people with their yard work in addition to trash pickup.
"We're teaching these kids to show love to people," Rendon said. "That's what it's all about."