Christian youth group gives time to local parks

Published 8:28 am Thursday, July 16, 2015

Contributed Photo Members of the Christ in Youth group help paint the Riverside Park Pavilion.

A nationwide program called Christ in Youth recently brought a workforce made up of middle and high school students from all over the country to help agencies in Elizabethton and Johnson City.

Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains was thrilled to have extra sets of hands to complete three projects on his to-do list.

Projects included painting the large picnic pavilion at Riverside Park and painting the large fence near the entrance of the Joe O’Brien Field Stadium. The work continued at Cat Island Park, where the kids painted over graffiti under the 19-E bridge, cleaning parking lot areas, removing grass along curb cuts and removing staples on picnic pavilions.

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“All of these places are used a great deal by our community,” Mains said.

While the CIY group is a program on its own, Mains said they were actually working voluntarily under a departmental program called Friends of the Parks.

“We greatly appreciate the service these youth and adults provided this department and the impact they made in our community,” Mains said. “Our Friends of the Parks Program is one way to give back and we thank these volunteers for their thoughtful giving and for the time they spent improving our park system.”

Mains hopes this inspires more local folks to get involved in maintaining their public facilities.

“We’ve been very fortunate this spring and summer to have had several groups come forward willing to help,” Mains said. “Providing recreational facilities for both city and county residents is challenging at times, but these volunteers are producing great rewards and we hope they are blessed as much as we are from their service.”

The CIY program has had a longstanding relationship with Milligan College said Josh Hurley, spokesperson for CIY. CIY organizes trips and programs all over the country.

“It’s known as Engage at Milligan,” Hurley said. “We’ve worked with Milligan for about 20 years.”

This service connects CIY groups to people in the community through partnerships with churches, ministries and organizations.

From July 7-9, CIY sent 372 volunteers out to help where they were needed in East Tennessee.

“We worked with Mike Mains as well as Kelly Geagley with the housing agency,” Hurley said. “We also worked with the housing agency in Johnson City.”

The volunteers were from places like Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other areas of Tennessee, Hurley said.

The overall mission of the organization is to take people out of their comfort zones, teach them how fun it is to give back and hope they share that discovery in their own communities.

“We want to come alongside of people like Mike,” Hurley said. “We want our volunteers to learn at a young age the importance of serving others. We want to teach them about ways to get involved in human resources and social justice issues. We want to help create a better community and society for different places across the nation. We want to create a better future for people and we do all this in the name of Jesus.”