They huddled together at a pint-sized table, one 6-years-old and the other in her mid-twenties. They were examining the animal Bingo card in front of them, almost giddy at how close they were to victory. And when the caller drew the last animal they needed, the two jumped up and yelled out in unison, high-fived each other, and celebrated with a small victory dance. It might seem like the two are just passing the time and goofing around, but for Bethany and the other young adults who volunteer with inner-city youth, these interactions mean so much more.
“It’s important for these children to have the opportunity to just be kids and have fun – despite what is going on in their home life,” she said. “I strive to bring laughter and compassion to them. I want them to know young adults care about them and their future.”
Bethany and several other of St. Louis’ most promising young professionals have recently joined forces to form the newly assembled Salvation Army Young Professionals Group (YPG), an initiative that aims to generate greater volunteer involvement and awareness of community issues among a younger demographic. Recently, the group has been volunteering its time with the youth served at the Temple Worship and Community Center.
“Volunteering with the Salvation Army kids is the highlight of my week,” Bethany said. “It’s so invigorating to be in the presence of their creative imaginations and compassionate personalities. Their perspective of the world is something that I find refreshing. We may be here to benefit them, but they also benefit us in the process.
“At this stage in our lives, we become so engulfed with pesky, trivial matters. Volunteering brings you back to the important things in life. It calms your mind from the everyday troubles of work, traffic, and bills, and for two hours, these kids bring a genuine sense of joy to my day.”
Fellow YPG member Tarah agreed.
“As young adults, we are just starting out in our careers and it came be an extremely overwhelming and difficult time. I think this gives us the chance to see the big picture, keep us grounded, and help us see what matters most.”
As the group continues to gain momentum, it will offer educational programming, networking events, fundraisers, and volunteer opportunities to help further the Army’s mission of “Doing the Most Good.”
“I fell in love with The Salvation Army and the work it provides for our community,” Beth said. “I feel grateful to have found an organization that is rooted in a mission to serve others and look forward to continuing to make it stronger and have a positive impact on the St. Louis community.”
For more information on The Salvation Army Young Professionals Group and its work in the St. Louis area, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/salvationarmyypg.
The Good is published quarterly by The Salvation Army Midland Division for its friends and supporters. For questions or feedback, please call 314-646-3072.