iServe helps teens make a difference

July 16, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- Nearly 100 teenagers will descend on Hagerstown July 20 and 21, determined to make a positive difference in the lives of as many people as possible.

The teens from Catholic parishes in Washington and Frederick counties are part of iServe, a program dear to the heart of Irene Wunderlich, youth ministry coordinator at St. Mary Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

"This is our third year for iServe," Wunderlich said.

St. Mary Catholic Church is the hub for a group of 12 professional youth ministers who started iServe, which Wunderlich points to as a great example of teamwork.

The teens will arrive at St. Mary on Monday at 10 a.m., gather in groups, have lunch, then go out to their assigned service sites.


Monday night will include a dinner sponsored by Roy Rogers restaurant, a speaker on social justice, Mass and free time.

On Tuesday morning, they will head out to the service sites, then return to Hagerstown City Park for a barbecue lunch sponsored by Knights of Columbus.

The sites were chosen specifically to be within walking distance of the 224 W. Washington St. church.

"With so many registered this year, we had to really work to find places," Wunderlich said.

The work sites include REACH, Holly Place, the Hagerstown food bank at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Walnut and Potomac towers, Memorial Recreation Center, Easter Seals Adult Daycare, Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, Children in Need, United Way of Washington County, Alzheimer's Association, Horizon Goodwill Industries and Community Mediation Center.

Each site has different needs, which gives the teens a chance to see the many different types of service in any community, Wunderlich said.

"Some of the kids get lucky and come to a place like the United Way, where they are in an air-conditioned office doing office work," said Addie Nardi, director of resource development for the United Way of Washington County.

Some of the youths will scrub toilets at REACH and others will be outside pulling weeds. Regardless, all of the teens are exposed to life in a nonprofit organization, Nardi said.

Wunderlich said her greatest goal is that the teens will see that service can be fun.

"It is also good for the community to see them working for good," she said.

A native of Washington, D.C., Wunderlich went to college in St. Louis. There, she met her husband, George Wunderlich, a banjo maker and executive director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Md.

Irene Wunderlich has been on the staff at St. Mary, her home church, for four years.

The Wunderlichs live in Hagerstown and have four children.

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