WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Each February, it seems, elderly residents in the Vickers House section of West Palm Beach, Fla., begin asking, “When are the children coming back again?” in anticipation of each summer’s M-Fuge youth camp.
M-Fuge, a youth missions camp sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, began in 1995 with West Palm Beach as one of the pilot project locations.
Many residents of the Vickers House community have had their houses painted and their yards cleaned during one of the summers that LifeWay has held M-Fuge camp in West Palm Beach.
M-Fuge, for students in grade seven through college, combines Bible study, worship, personal quiet time and personal reflection with the opportunity to get out into communities and make a difference in the lives of the people who live there.
Time hasn’t dimmed Annie Griffin’s appreciation for the teens’ work and kindness. “They are such lovely children,” said Griffin, whose house was painted and yard cleaned last summer. “I really appreciate what they did for me. They were so hard-working and Christian in their actions.”
Lela Jordan, director of The Vickers House community resource center in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla., said the residents aren’t the only ones who look forward to the M-Fuge influx.
“We’re able to get so much done over the summers because of their help. It means a lot to the residents that the camp keeps returning to the neighborhood to help make it better. It offers the residents a little bit of hope that someone cares about them.”
Since its first summer in West Palm Beach, the camp has made its home at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Christian university in downtown West Palm Beach, where the campers have a bird’s-eye view of the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway overlooking affluent Palm Beach.
This picture-perfect view is in stark contrast to what many of the youth encounter during M-Fuge as they help renovate less prosperous parts of town.
For eight consecutive summers, M-Fuge campers have helped transform the area around The Vickers House.
The first two years, M-fugers, along with other volunteers, helped restore a dilapidated 1939 two-story white house into The Vickers House resource center for counseling, translation assistance and a homeward bound program for the homeless.
This summer, M-Fuge teens painted the interior of a homeless shelter and prepared its yard for a garden, painted the Braille Club’s facilities, built a playground and picked up trash in conjunction with The Vickers House.
“This is what I needed — to feel I could make a difference,” said Nikolai Cilluffo from Southeast Baptist Church in Greensboro, S.C. He helped paint the interior of the Operation Hope homeless shelter.
“I learned that little things have importance,” said Zach Montgomery from First Baptist Church in Zachary, La. “By painting a wall, I can be praising the Lord. When the residents look at these walls, they’ll know that someone did this for them.”
Compiled by staff reports.