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Youth serve throughout Kentucky and Tennessee

By Kayla Lutes,  AmeriCorps VISTA for AdventureServe PR

On Sunday, July 23, AdventureServe Ministries began a final week of service throughout Kentucky and Knoxville, Tennessee. AdventureServe is a non-denominational, non-profit organization dedicated to serving local communities and providing Christian wilderness and missions experiences. For the past eight weeks, the non-profit has guided 35 groups in wilderness and service mission trips. Last week, over 150 middle and high school students from across the country participated in service projects such as home repairs and serving with partner agencies who work with the homeless, disadvantaged children and individuals with disabilities.

AdventureServe offers a variety of programs including home repair and mystery trips, which reveal the next step of the trip along the way. The nonprofit finds partner organizations mostly through relationships or word of mouth.

“There are some amazing partnerships we have with organizations,” Lisa Wiehe, AdventureServe’s Mystery Trip Program director said. “We’re able to plug in, in some cases, year-round.”

Year-long relationships are what sent a group of 30 to Knoxville. AdventureServe was formally located in Tennessee and sent groups to the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas for inner-city service projects. Since moving their base to Wilmore, the organization continues to send groups to Tennessee.

“We had one trip to Chattanooga and one trip to Knoxville this summer, which is historically common for us,” Wiehe said. “There are still groups that really enjoy being in Tennessee.”

The mystery trip program connects groups with rural and inner-city organizations and gives youths a chance to serve in multiple capacities. Throughout the eight weeks of the summer, groups consistently partnered with Lighthouse Ministries, a food pantry, and Broadway Christian Church’s Broadway Live Day Camp in Lexington. 

AdventureServe guides youth through experiences that get them out of their comfort zone.  

“There’s value in broadening your world and learning about areas that are different from what you are used to,” Weihe said. 

AdventureServe also offers a home repair program. One group of 12 from Gospel Fellowship of Sussex in Sussex, Wisconson, spent their week doing home repair projects at the home of Junior and Phyllis Lewis, residents of Wilmore. Junior is a retired custodian at Wilmore Elementary, and Phyllis worked as a cook at Asbury College for 22 years. The group replaced a gutter, repaired sagging ceilings and replaced joists on the floor of the couples home. 

“They were amazing,” Phyllis said of the group. “I’ve never seen kids work so hard. This is a great thing that has started, and I just pray they keep doing it.”

The Lewises were recommended to AdventureServe by a friend who saw a flyer at a laundromat in Wilmore. The friend asked their permission before sending in the application which began a weeks-long process of interviews and waiting for approval. 

“I said, ‘no, I don’t have any objections, I just wish I could do it myself,’” said Junior. “But no, I don’t have any objections. 

For health reasons, Phyllis and Junior have been unable to keep up with the repairs needed in their home. Phyllis suffers from arthritis that leaves her unable to stand some days, and Junior suffered a hernia that has made him unable to safely lift more than 15 pounds. 

“We used to keep it together ourselves, but both of us are down,” Phyllis said. “We prayed, thank God, thank you Jesus when they came. I was so proud [of the kids].”

In addition to the service projects, all 150 students were given the chance to experience the outdoors through activities such as caving, rock climbing and whitewater rafting.

For more information about AdventureServe and the service programs, visit https://www.adventureserve.org/.