By Mary Walker
Editor’s note—Every IYC affords students the opportunity to give back to their host city through acts of community service. You never know what kind of impact they’ll leave behind. The following is the story of one local agency blessed by youth groups attending IYC2016 in San Antonio, Texas.
Maybe you’ve heard people say they’ve had a “life-changing moment.” It could be something big or small, but whatever happened, they knew nothing would be the same again, or they discovered or became something new. Some people could really use a moment like that, to make their lives just a little bit better—and sometimes you can’t wait for it to come along. Instead, you need to take action to make it happen.
Creating a moment for life change
Those words were this year’s theme at the International Youth Convention of the Church of God, better known as IYC. This purpose drives everything that happens during the convention. IYC is a four-day, faith-based event that provides youth and adult leaders, who come from all over the country, an opportunity to strengthen a large community of youth who are dedicated to keeping their lives on a positive path, and helping others do the same. Every two years IYC is held in various cities, each city providing unique experience for all who attend. This year IYC invaded our own San Antonio, July 2–5.
A large part of the IYC mission is providing a large variety of community services to the host city. The project is called Impact Day. In fact, during the last six conventions, youth and adults provided a total of $500,000 worth of volunteer service hours. Not only do youth serve the community, but they also grow their leadership skills.
This year on Impact Day, youth took action to create moments of life change for a variety of people and organizations in San Antonio. And thanks to Region 8 CPS Community Initiatives Specialist (CIS) Nicole Solis, who coordinated their effort, more than thirty IYC youth, along with their adult leaders, chose the two CPS buildings as their Impact Day project.
Let’s just say that IYC volunteers really brought their determination, perseverance, and grease. Elbow grease, that is, and a load of cleaning products. On Sunday, July 3, CPS staff and IYC-ers rolled up their sleeves and went to work cleaning visitation rooms and re-organizing the Rainbow Room. They certainly made a very big impact! When they finished, the visitation rooms gleamed and the Rainbow Room was as organized as a department store.
Solis summed up the big volunteer cleanup day, saying “We are all pooped! The kids had a great time and we got every room done.”
Another youth group spent time with children living in a local transitional housing center. One youth leader said, “We got to minister, do crafts, have fun, and pray that all the children find a home. It was an experience we will never forget.”
Thank you to IYC and youth volunteers for making a positive impact on CPS, and for paying it forward. You never know what small acts of kindness can do to create moments for life change for those who need it most.
Mary Walker is the media specialist for Region 8 if the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Learn more about IYC at www.iyc2016.org.