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Dignity in Kentucky

JUNE 2017

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by Brianna Youngs Brianna is a member of the 2017 EM Summer Staff team in Pikeville, Kentucky, who are coordinating and leading trips throughout the summer.

Kip, Maggie and I just had our first week here in Pikeville, Kentucky and we keep falling more and more in love with this community. We had four days of construction in the morning and outreach in the afternoon with the team here, partnering on construction with Habitat for Humanity. The team of twelve from Cincinnati, OH, tackled each task with joy and readiness.

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Each day of outreach was different this week. Monday the team visited Signature Nursing Home where we had lunch with the residents then mingled and played games like balloon volleyball, corn hole, Uno and Yahtzee. All of us, the team and the residents, laughed and had an uplifting and exciting time. We sang worship songs and people organically prayed with one another throughout our time there. When it came time to say goodbye nobody wanted to leave and lots of hugs were shared.

The next day the team was able to serve at the homeless shelter by cleaning three of the rooms and connecting with residents there. And then on Wednesday we went to another nursing home called Parkview. A few of the team members stayed in the common area and watched a movie with residents while the rest of the team was taken to the Alzheimer’s unit to do some crafts and mingling. It was such a joy to volunteer there because each time a resident came around the corner and saw there were visitors their faces lit up. The team members took initiative by walking up, introducing themselves and inviting them to a table. To finish out the week, we spent time organizing food at the Thankful Hearts Food Pantry.

It was encouraging to see the community and team come together to spread joy and love at the construction site and outreach locations. 

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The volunteers did an amazing job connecting with Brent, the director of Habitat for Humanity in Pikeville. As they grew closer to him, they strengthened the bonds of friendship within their own group by supporting each other to get the job done. It was neat to contribute to a larger project that would eventually turn into a home for a family. We can’t wait to see this project continue towards completion knowing that we were able to work so hard on it.

This week, the volunteers also learned about the importance of human dignity. Dignity is defined as “bearing, conduct, or speech, indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.” We see Jesus set the perfect example of dignity in Luke 8:43-48, when a lady who “has had a discharge of blood for twelve years” touches His robe. Jesus stops in the crowd and seeks out who touched Him, the disciples tell Him not to waste His time and society has long forgotten about the women, but He searches for her amongst the crowd. Once He sees her He tells her, “'Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.'” He takes the time to look her in the eyes, validate her existence, and heal her. This week a beautiful picture of dignity unfolded before my eyes at Parkview nursing home.

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The team followed the example Jesus set in the importance of dignifying others. They looked each resident path in the eyes, genuinely smiling and actually caring about how they were doing. They sought to make sure they were comfortable and happy. They listened to their needs and concerns and prayed with them. They did not treat them as any less even though the residents suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. There was not a single ounce of pity in the room that day. God used the team this past week to leave a smile on the faces of those residents and a sense of dignity in the air. Kip, Maggie, and I are thrilled with how well this week of volunteers went and cannot wait to meet the next team and see how God uses them to continue to bring light into the community of Pikeville.

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