Local church youth group will help Katrina victims


Enthusiasm, energy, and construction skills will come together in Bay St. Louis, Miss., this summer for 58 high school members of Lake Grove Presbyterian Church.

From Sunday to July 23, the high school members of Entheos, the high school youth group, will provide 'A Wave of Hope' for Bay St. Louis residents whose houses were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The Lake Grove young people, led by Jim McClelland, youth director, prepared for their construction tasks by undergoing classes offered by Home Depot. With the help of assistant manager, Mike Dempsey, the students participated in six hands-on training sessions in sheet rocking, taping and mudding, roofing, wiring, general clean-up and other aspects of light construction they'll undertake in Mississippi.

Bay St. Louis, McClelland said, is east of New Orleans, near Waveland, and was at the eye of Hurricane Katrina. Although many of its buildings were destroyed, the First Presbyterian Church of Bay St. Louis, though damaged, has been restored sufficiently to be used as a headquarters for teams coming to assist in re-building the community. Members of nearby churches provide food and supplies, supplementing help from other donors.

Support to send the 58 students and 17 adults to the site was raised at the Lake Grove church's senior high students' BASH (Benefit Auction for Senior Highs) sponsored by the students themselves. In addition to the $34,000 raised at the BASH, each participant provides $300 toward expenses.

Additionally, participating students fulfilled several requirements, according to McClelland, including eight hours of community service, active participation in church and youth groups, work on the BASH, and interviews.

The mission outreach of the high school group is a tradition at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church. Former mission projects have been undertaken in the Appalachians, in a hurricane-stricken village in Bermuda, at Mexican orphanages, on a Montana Indian reservation, and with Habitat for Humanity programs.

Adults accompanying the mission group will include three persons skilled in construction: Derald Dadson, Mark Sipiora and Paul Stewart. The other adults include Debbie Foote and Sara Lea, cooks; and Dan Brabeck, Gigi Brabeck, Gary Cummings, Kelly Dunlop, Lucien Dupont, Kathleen Fast, Dea Dea Hilton, Barbara Kempe, Anne-Marie Simpson, Tom Simpson, Jeanne Sipiora and McClelland.