• By Susan Parker
  • Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Student Life Group Serves With Smiles!

A mission group of 27 young people from Harbor United Methodist Church in Wilmington, NC, shared three days of service time with local families doing work that greatly helped families who could not otherwise have accomplished these jobs.

The summer heat was no match for a Student Life group of youth mission workers from Harbor United Methodist Church in Wilmington, NC. These twenty-seven students and their chaperones worked for two local families over three days.


The families participate in a program called the Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). The RAPP Program serves caregivers parenting children who are not their biological children and is a kinship resource through the Family and Children’s Division of the Forsyth County Department of Social Services.

Both families are headed by grandparents caring full-time for grandchildren, living with physical concerns that limit their ability to do manual labor. However, their spirits are high, especially after seeing the results of the work done by Student Life. Both families expressed tremendous gratitude to the students. One family had a storage shed that was very much in need of work; Here are the before and after pictures of one project!

Old New

The second family needed help with trimming trees, weeding, and setting up a portable pool. There was one very happy 10 year-old boy who arrived home from school to find his much-loved pool ready and waiting for him! And his grandmother can enjoy having a newly manicured yard.

Tree Pool

The youth mission group believes the words of Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

The projects were coordinated by the National Student Life Organization in Birmingham, Alabama, the Student Life Mission Group in Wilmington, NC and the Relatives as Parents Program, RAPP, in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

The youth mission group was coordinated by the church’s youth pastor, Graham Murray, and the Student Life component was coordinated by Leanne Portera, Mission Assistant. Supervisor Teresa Bryant served to organize the collaborative efforts between the church and the students, and the new RAPP Program Coordinator, Susan Parker, was on hand to make sure everything went as planned.

The National Student Life Organization in Birmingham, Alabama allows youth and adults to serve communities. The nation-wide conferences are held each summer with host cities receiving community service projects to area families with energetic, smiling faces from the mission workers.

RAPP is a local organization in Winston Salem, North Carolina under the direction of the Forsyth County Department of Social Services; but RAPP is a part of a national network of organizations designed to support the needs of kinship families. Look for a RAPP in your area, there may be one. The program has been a part of the local Department of Social Services supporting kinship families since 2003.

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