Youth could redeem lives through work

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Young people from across America are visiting the New Orleans area this week, but they are not here to party but to work. It’s all part of the Catholic HEART Workcamp, where teen-agers pay for the privilege of traveling to a strange place, meeting others and working to help those not as fortunate as themselves. These teen-agers quickly find not everyone lives in a comfortable, air-conditioned house with a good ceiling, good floors and sound walls. Not everyone has an adequate income or perfect health. And the young people quickly realize that while poverty in America does not approach Third-World standards, the lifestyle they enjoy is not universal. This is a valuable lesson in life, and the program also channels youthful energy into making a positive difference in someone else’s life. Those who are helped are immediately gratified, and those who do the work learn the pleasure of an elderly person’s smile. These workcamps are church-sponsored, but similar programs could perhaps work to help those teen-agers who are stumbling toward a brief life of crime. With adult supervision, juvenile offenders could possibly be put to work mowing lawns, painting houses, doing small repairs and making the lives of our local senior citizens more secure and comfortable, rather than being one of the perils seniors face. The program could teach much more than work skills. It teaches humility, appreciation for what they have and a better attitude toward life.