Family sees the power of Youth Force
Vacations for the Lee Shouse family have consisted of going to sometimes remote locations in Oklahoma to help with Youth Force projects during the past eight or nine summers.
Along the way, the Shouses’ two children have grown up and learned how good it feels to do things that help other people.
"They love seeing the effect they can have on someone’s life," said Cathy Shouse, mother of Catee, 24, and Trey, 19. They are members of Vinita United Methodist Church.
Youth Force provides one-week, hands-on mission service opportunities for teens at multiple locations across Oklahoma.
A typical project for the Shouse family is building a ramp to help a person with physical challenges get in or out of a house.
Lee, who is a chemical engineer, knows a lot about building things, Cathy said. His family "always built their own homes," she said.
Cathy has been amazed at the dedication of all the teens in Youth Force. They "pay $200 to go and spend a week in the sun and do all this work. They want to go!"
While serving at a site, participants stay at nearby colleges or in churches. That can mean sleeping on the floor, Cathy said.
The work has taken the Shouse family to sites in northeastern Oklahoma as well as Guymon, Henryetta, Muldrow, and Poteau.
The missions have allowed the Shouses’ children to see places they might not otherwise go. "I think that’s so important," Cathy said.
A surprise bonus is that Catee and Trey, now college students, sometimes run into acquaintances from Youth Force during other travel in the state, Cathy said.
Catee, who is working on a master’s degree in library science at Rogers State University in Claremore, now serves with Cathy and Lee as a Youth Force leader. Trey, majoring in business management at Rogers State, continues to work in mission alongside other teens.
The short-term missions are sponsored by the Oklahoma Conference as a facet of Volunteers In Mission. The $200 fee pays for meals, lodging for Sunday evening through Friday morning, project supplies and expenses, recreation, worship, training materials, and a Youth Force T-shirt.
Above: Cathy Shouse, left, paints a sign for a building in Guymon, and Trey Shouse surveys work on a Norman project in 2014.
Above: Lee Shouse rests beside a new entry ramp built in Henryetta this summer, and Catee Shouse plans gardening work on a 2014 project in Norman. Vinita UMC is this family’s home church.