Saturday, July 25, 2020

Friday Update

It's hard to believe it's over. What an incredible week!

Due to the forecasted thunderstorms this morning we cut our day short and only ended up doing service projects from 3-5:15 before dinner.  We finished up some projects at both upper and main campus completely filling the dumpster in the process!

Two of SERVES biggest traditions are Covenant Night and Bonfire Night. Covenant night is the night before the last night and is the culmination of the evening messages and small groups and involves some sort of heart moving tangible moment for the students as we commission them to take everything they've learned during a week and put it into practice back home.  Bonfire night is the last night of SERVE and is the students turn to do the talking and the leaders chance to do the listening.  Typically student after student steps forward to share something personal that they've learned that week and how the week affected them.  We knew the week wasn't long enough and the atmosphere wouldn't be quite right in order to pull off either of those sacred traditions.  Instead we did a little hybrid of both which culminated in a very powerful prayer moment in two different large circles where students stepped into the middle of the circle for categories that applied to them and adults around the circle prayed for the students that moved.  Categories included each grade, different schools, and sports teams / activities.  Everyone stood and moved into the circle as well to be commissioned in prayer to work for the peace and prosperity of the communities that they are a part of (Jeremiah 29:7) including their families and the local church.  

SERVE@Home may not have been the same but it was more than we could have asked for and we've added things and learned from this experience that will further SERVE no matter where it's held in the years to come! 

Thanks to everyone for being a part of this incredible journey.

If you want a link to any of the messages from any other night let Tim know (!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thursday Update

Well today certainly felt like a Thursday on SERVE. We've said for many years that every day has a personality and it varies slightly from Middle School Week to high School Week in the summers. 

Monday is the Go Get 'Em day - everyone heads off with a ton of energy but typically hit various walls with knowing where to go, what to do, and just getting comfortable with the work site in general.  

Tuesday is probably the most productive day of the week as everyone gets their "SERVE legs" underneath them and knows what needs to be done at their projects.

Wednesday is what we call comfortability day and can be good or bad as far as productivity goes.  With comfort though often comes injury in terms of students doing things they wouldn't have been comfortable with on Monday or saying things they wouldn't have dared say on Monday either.  

Thursday is often the let down day. Big plans, big dreams, big hopes but often over confidence as well.  Thankfully it's often a rebound day from Wednesday too.  Today was one of those days - we certainly accomplished a lot with the high school students heading to two widows houses to do yard work and the middle school students finishing up at Heuser Park and with Katie Searfoss at Main Campus.  From a Director standpoint though I was constantly on the run which typically means things aren't going quite as planned.  Thankfully the rain held off but it certainly threatened all day which kept us on the edge of our seats.

Fridays are typically fun. Full of project completion celebrations, finishing touches, the after of the before and after pictures and the strong sense of accomplishment that comes with it! We're praying this for tomorrow for sure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Wednesday Update

Another great day! More trees taken care of, painting done at Norview, rooms organized at Upper Campus, and Kids@Hope help completed. Check out all the pictures to see SERVE@Home students in action!

My observation today and thankfulness though comes not from our current students but our alumni. As we head toward the back half of SERVE@Home marking the 19th straight summer that Mandy and I have led service trips for students I am reminded about the impact they've been able to have by the former students that have come through this week to volunteer, to speak, to take pictures or just to say Hello! 

Jack Koye (2019) - Serving in lots of fun ways this week even when he can carve out only an hour or so!
Dan Bullock (2018) - Doing every little odd job there is to do every afternoon this week. 
Robert Herrick (2017) - Co-leading a high school work crew, a middle school small group and speaking Friday night
Anna Derby (2015) - Co-leading the Heuser Park Project and speaking Thursday Night
Ben Hamblett (2014) - Tim's main assistant helping with general logistics and 
Dana Wright (2013) - Some odd jobs and spoke Wednesday Night
Sam Paradis (2013) - Leading a high school small group and doing some afternoon chauffeuring including dropping off popsicles at work crews today!
Josiah Blizzard (2011) - Stopped by to take some "professional" pictures today - more on that another night!
Katie Searfoss (2010) - Leading a work site at main campus this week and spoke on Tuesday Night

We've also had visits from Kira Berol (2018), Maddie Cooper (2017) and Caroline Herrick (2018). Any other alumni reading this - you're certainly welcome anytime this week :)

SERVE represents something for all these former students and for many more that are spread around the country or busy working or studying this week.  It represents a significant developmental experience and a set of memories that they can still hold on to today.  I'm praying the same for our current students this week and I'm overly thankful for our alumni that are helping make this possible along with our other incredible volunteers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tuesday Update and Pictures

First - what everyone wants: TUESDAY PICTURES

Secondly some thoughts from Tim...    

Two things come to mind tonight:
1) I've heard from youth pastors and organizational leaders around our region and the country in the last couple days asking how we're pulling this event off and making it work.  The students and our volunteers get all the credit for this one.  They've been incredible - willing to wear the masks when necessary and knowing when it's okay and how to take a break.  Our volunteers have been flexible and willing to do anything as some of our plans have changed and adjusted each day.  Mad Props Yo!

2) I'm not sure I can explain this as well through writing as I could when I shared it with the students tonight but I'm going to give it a shot.  The circle nature of this illustration is special as it helps me to understand how complex and intricate God's plan for our lives really are.  

COVID forced our Vermont plans to change --> which created the opportunity for us to SERVE@Home --> which led us to seek local projects --> where we found plenty of things that needed to be done --> as normal volunteer community events didn't happen this Spring --> because of COVID

Three great examples this week are the tree project at Heuser where all sorts of volunteers would have come through this Spring to take care of the trees and keep the project going.  Many volunteers are still needed and are welcome to get involved even as early as tomorrow night.  The other two projects that fit into this category are the weeding students did on the Upper Merion Baptist Church Nursery School Playground today.  Normally a parent work day would have taken care of it in the Spring and only touch up needed in the Spring but if you look through the pictures from today you'll see how bad it really was.  Earlier tonight I also go to call two widows that Hope generally serves through a Men's Spring Workday with yard work, gutter cleaning and other projects around their home.  Both were overjoyed at the opportunity to receive some help on Thursday and our high school students are excited to be able to go and fill that void that we weren't able to do earlier this Spring as a church.

It's only Tuesday - but this week has been full already.  It's an honor to be able to serve in this way and I'm excited that there's still more days in this week than we've been through so far!

Monday's Pictures

Monday Update

Small groups were finished tonight and most of the students had been picked up.  I asked one of the last to be picked up how his day was and he said - "I had a lot of doubt that it was going to all work out but I tried not to have any expectations today. I have to tell you though when I was on my work site this morning I forgot for awhile that I was in PA and not VT."  That's one of the many goals this week to create moments and memories that remind our students that God is bigger than this moment we're in and He's got plans far behind our wildest imaginations for us no matter where we are in the country. Despite the heat, despite the masks, despite the safety precautions we had an incredible day.

Our day started with check-in and getting shirts, books, and even a commemorative mask. We moved from there to solo time where students scattered over the Upper Campus property to spend 15-20 minutes with Jesus and get focused for the day.  Work crew assignments were next and the middle school students headed off to Heuser Park with the high school students split between Main Campus and Norview Farm. 

The Heuser Park group got settled there and quickly got to work on weeding, mulching, and caring for some of the 1000 tree saplings that were planted in the last year as part of the Emerald Ash Borer Revitalization Project.  It was hot hard work today but the team was able to free 75 trees from weeds today and will have the benefit of watching those trees grow up even more in the next few years.

The Norview Farm group did a lot of schlepping today! We're helping the farm staff clean up the old garden center by removing old tables, cinder blocks, and more debris from many years gone by.  It was an incredible 120+ in the green house there today so they were in and out grabbing stuff and moving quickly before taking a breather outside.

The Main Campus team did a bunch of random tasks including some weeding outside, cleaning out an old storage pod and helping sort some old electronics.  A truck load of donations was taken from the old pod to Liberty Thrift today thanks to this team!

We took the afternoon off due to the heat and returned to church at 5:30 for a catered meal from Wild Blue Catering who will take care of our meals all week.  Tonight's breaded chicken sandwiches were a hit and we can't wait to see what's next on the menu.  Middle School and High School games of Moose Moose Llama Llama were a hit then back together for Yay Gods and Mad Props.  We finished the evening with a message from Mandy and small groups before heading home for the night.  

We kick off another day of fun soon!

Saturday, July 18, 2020


Welcome to SERVE@Home! 

This year has been different for all of us and it will certainly be different for our SERVE students this summer.  Starting on Monday, July 20th - Forty 7th-12th grade (completed) students will serve at many locations in and around Hope Community Church.  Unlike a traditional year in Vermont students will go home in the evenings and return again the next morning.  Like a traditional year those days will be full of some of the things students have loved over the years including Solo Time, Service Projects, Afternoon Activities, Great Food, and an evening program with speakers and small groups.

Just like other years we plan to post a daily blog including pictures, stories, and more from our 5 day experience. We hope you come along and join us on this new journey!

Friday, August 2, 2019


Wow! What an incredible two weeks.  It's now Friday almost a full week since the end of SERVE 2019 and memories and moments are still swirling around in my head!

A grad total of 1600 service hours by students at an incredible number of projects including some brand new sites and some old time favorites.  That doesn't even take into consideration the amount of time put in by volunteer leaders who gave up vacation time and time with their families to come for a week or more.  

We'll celebrate a week from Sunday on the 11th at Hope Community Church during both services as we try help our larger church understand why so many of us consider these two weeks "the best weeks of our year".  I hope you can join us!

Saturdays High School pictures weren't posted so if you've been looking for them here they are!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Friday Photos

We just finished our evening with worship under the stars — it just doesn't get any better than that. We're looking forward to a fun Saturday as we enjoy the temporary community here before heading home on Sunday.

Friday Photos

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Thursday Photos

Today had its hiccups and obstacles, but we made the most of it. As we reach the end, we're figuring out how to finish the many projects that we've started this week and we're looking forward to a fun recreation day on Saturday. It'll be over before we know it! 

Oh and one more thing: we took pictures!