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Teens put thoughts and prayers into action
Mission program in Larned; coming to Hoisington in July
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Teens from a mission project paint a fence Tuesday in Larned. On the left side of the fence, from front to back: Alejandra Facio from Garden City, Elise Helfrich from Dodge City and Tyson Bleumer from Ingalls; right side of fence: Marie Maestas from Ellinwood, Caleb Sanger from Larned and Erin Hammeke from Ellinwood.

A team of students organized by the summer missions program Prayer and Action is in Larned this week and will come to Hoisington in July to provide basic help to people in need.

The Catholic Diocese of Dodge City organizes the teams and works in partnership with communities in southwest Kansas to select projects. College students serve as team leaders and then high school students and their adult chaperones come from all over the diocese to pitch in on house painting, yard cleanup and “whatever else folks need,” said Gentry Heimerman from the diocese office in Dodge City.

Rileigh Greathouse, a Wichita State University student from Garden City, is one of the team leaders in Larned this week. The teens work during the day and spend the nights at the Sacred Heart Parish Center, where they’ve stashed their sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses. 

Part the Larned group spent Monday priming a wooden fence, which they painted Tuesday. That’s typical of the kind of work done, Heimerman said.

A lot of times a family just needs some extra help for a project such as painting a house, he said. “Those projects are really great because the kids get to see the transition of the work from beginning to end. They also get to know the family.”

That was the case for Marie Maestas, who will be a senior this fall at Ellinwood High School. Once she got to talking to the owner of the fence her group was painting, she discovered that the woman already knows some of the same people she knows in Ellinwood. Small world, Maestas thought.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said, describing why she gave up part of her summer to do volunteer work. “I wanted to try it and I wanted to do service for others.” Getting to know the people she’s helping and becoming aware of other people’s lives has been part of the experience.

Heimerman said some projects may only take a few minutes, but they are important to the people who are helped. For example, a volunteer might be asked to do something as simple as dusting a china cabinet that a homeowner can no longer reach.

“None of it is skilled labor,” he said. “And unfortunately, there are things we just can’t get to.” The group takes request forms from people but there’s no guarantee that a project will be done.

Teams arrive in a town on Sunday and stay through Friday, Heimerman said. Larned is on its second team and second week. After a break for the Fourth of July, the first Hoisington group will arrive on July 7 and a second group will be there July 14-19.

As the team prepares to come to Hoisington, organizers ask that community members make note of who might benefit from the volunteers’ time there or to call if they have a project they could use a hand with. The Prayer and Action team can’t guarantee that every job will be completed.

For more information, contact the St. John Parish in Hoisington by calling 620-653-2695 or send an email to Gentry Heimerman at