More than 60 young people representing different Farmington area religious communities came together August 13-17 to improve the campus at C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills.
The interfaith service project was made possible by Youth United, a coalition of teens and adults from Adat Shalom Synagogue, Congregation Anjuman-e-Najmi, First Presbyterian Church of Farmington, Hope Lutheran Church, Muslim Community Mosque, Nardin Park United Methodist Church, Orchard United Methodist Church, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, St. Gerald’s Catholic Church, and Trinity in the Woods Episcopal Church.
“Our area has such a rich diversity of ethnicities and faiths,” said organizer Karen Linnell, an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Farmington. “My idea was to provide an opportunity for interfaith youth to explore their values and help others.”
First Presbyterian of Farmington applied for a “Faith in Action” grant from the Presbytery of Detroit and quickly found partners who embraced the idea through the Farmington Area Interfaith Association (FAIA), she said.
C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills, a 501(c)3 operating out of the 10.5 acres formerly occupied by the Servant Church of St. Alexander on Shiawassee Street, made an ideal location, Linnell said, and director Todd Lipa helped youth identify projects.
The youth worked on:
- rejuvenating the ball field
- replacing benches for the dug-outs
- placing rocks for erosion prevention in the creek bed
- building benches for the gazebo, sorting clothes
- moving the children’s area to make room for grocery shelves and cashier stations
- painting the grocery store area
- re-arranging the entrance area
- and creating artwork, including two murals under the guidance of Farmington Hills’ Artist-in-Residence, John Martin
“I have done youth programs for 40 years and I can say that the Youth United week was one of the most inspirational weeks I have ever been a part of,” Lipa said after the camp. “I still can’t believe how great the place looks. We’ve heard nothing but compliments …”
Youth leader Amatullah Poonawala added, “We didn’t think we’d get this much done, but it’s amazing what kids can do in such a short time when they put their minds to it.”