Paynesville Press - May 29, 2002

Community Perspective

Youth offer hope for the future

By Laurie Rausch

What a privilege and blessing it has been to be a part of the Paynesville community and to work with the young people here for the past four years!

Paynesville is truly a great town. Some of the things I have appreciated while living in this community include: the friendly and welcoming people, the great schools, the cooperation between churches, the beautiful surroundings and numerous recreational activities, and the fact that my groceries are bagged and carried out to my car for me!

However, my favorite thing about Paynesville is the ability that the community has to look towards the future, especially with regard to our young people.

The Paynesville area youth with whom I have worked give me hope for the future because they are...

Positive: They have an optimism and hopefulness about them that is contagious. The young people here face challenges and struggles, but instead of despairing they look to find the good within the difficulties. They are realistic about the future and the problems they will encounter, but trust that everything will work out for the best in the end.

Accepting: Our young people have a gift for recognizing the dignity of each person. They have minds and hearts that see beyond the religion, race, language, sexuality, age, social status, or physical abilities of others. Our youth value individuality and believe strongly in equal rights.

Youthful: They know how to find healthy ways to stay active and have fun. Wherever they go and whatever they do, our young people often bring the gifts of smiles and laughter with them.

Noteworthy: Our young people excel at so many difference things (academics, athletics, music and drama, volunteering, church groups, jobs, etc.) and manage to be consistently good at everything.

Ethical: Our young people strive to do the right thing even when it is not easy. We have young people who are courageous and strong in the face of incredible pressure from a society that encourages them: to focus solely on themselves, to lie, to cheat, to steal, to drink, to use drugs, to be sexually involved before marriage, to spend more money to get more stuff, and to do whatever it takes to be number one.

Service-oriented: They are willing to give of themselves and of their resources to help others. Our young people have a strong sense of the common good and of civic responsibility. They are probably more engaged in service and volunteer work and aware of more social issues than any previous generation.

Visionaries: Our young people dream big dreams and know that there is an entire world of possibilities open for them to explore. They are confident that their contributions to society can positively impact our world today. Our youth like to explore, search, travel, and experience.

Independent: They are increasingly self-reliant. Our youth work to pay for their own clothing, cars, activities, and schooling. They want to find jobs where they will be happy and successful. Many youth also recognize that with God as their guide they can accomplish anything.

Learners: Our young people value education. They take a variety of classes and many are on the school honor roll each year. Many of the seniors will pursue additional education after they graduate from high school.

Loving: They are compassionate and concerned for others, especially their peers and families. Oftentimes our young people put their own desires and fears aside so that they can make helping someone else a priority.

Energetic: Our young people are enthusiastic, dedicated, and ready to "seize the day!"

As a person who ministers to and advocates for youth, it has been very encouraging for me to experience a community that values and supports its young people.

The Paynesville community has obviously made a commitment to invest in the future by investing in the youth, and I can only imagine what the wonderful rewards will be from this investment.

I am thankful to the many people, especially the youth, who have shared by journey for the past four years, and offered support, encouragement, and a welcoming smile as I have gotten to know and love this area.

Although God has called me to move on and serve Him elsewhere next year (as a part of National Evangelization Team (NET) Ministries), part of my heart will always remain here in Paynesville.

God bless.

Rausch is the director of youth ministry at St. Louis Catholic Church. She is leaving at the end of July to join an evangelization team.

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