For The Dialog
SALISBURY, Md. – John and Debbie Meyers sat in the living room of their home recently as a group of high school volunteers painted the front door, stairwell, and upstairs hallway and other teenagers groomed the Meyers’ yard.
“If they weren’t doing this, it wouldn’t get done,” Debbie Meyers said. She and her husband are both on disability and unable to do the work themselves. They also could not afford to have the work done.
The 10 students worked for the Meyers at no charge, other than some cookies and tea the couple provided. They were part of a 16-person Pitcher and Basin team working at three sites in Salisbury last week.
Catholic Youth and Young Adult Ministry operates the weeklong work camp to provide high school students an opportunity to put their faith into action through service to others. The program’s name recalls the Last Supper scene of Jesus setting an example of selfless service by washing the feet of the Apostles.
Pitcher and Basin began in 2007, working with Habitat for Humanity of Talbot and Dorchester counties, in Easton and Cambridge, Md. The program continues there.
Three years ago Pitcher and Basin expanded to Salisbury. Besides the Meyers’ house, work sites this year included St. Francis de Sales Church campus and the campus ministry house at Salisbury University also operated by CYM.
“It’s wonderful,” said Meyers, a parishioner at St. Francis.
The students agree. At least half of this year’s Salisbury team had participated last year, and several of the first-time workers came because of experiences related by previous campers.
Delia Samson of St. John the Beloved in Wilmington, a rising sophomore at Delaware Military Academy, made her first work camp. “I’ve heard a lot of my friends from youth group talk about it but I had to wait a couple of years,” until she turned 15, to attend.
“I think it’s neat. I feel like I’m making a difference.”
The high school students stayed in St. Francis de Sales’ parish hall. After working during the day, they would eat, socialize, and meet at night to review the day’s events and tie those experiences to their Catholic faith. They quickly bonded, a key aspect of the Pitcher and Basin experience.
“I didn’t know anyone when I came,” Delia said at midweek, “but now it’s like I’ve been with my best friends.”
Even students who don’t think they would like the experience usually wind up enjoying Pitcher and Basin, such as Sydney Hitchens, a rising senior at Padua Academy in Wilmington.
“Last year I was like a girly-girl, so I didn’t think I would like it,” Sydney said as she sat on a stairwell landing and painted the risers between steps. “I enjoyed it, so I came back.”
Unlike Sydney, Hayley Abernethy, a rising junior at Padua, expected to enjoy her first camp based on fellow Padua student Holly Dagit’s experience last year.
“She told me I should come down and here I am,” said Hayley. “It sounded cool and I was looking for something to do this year – something good rather than sitting at home.”
Still, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Her experience sold her on the program. She plans to return with several friends next year.
One key to Hayley’s fondness for Pitcher and Basin involved meeting the Meyers and listening their stories about their lives, family, parish and Salisbury.
“Seeing people and talking to them helps you feel better. You know you really have made an impact,” Hayley said.
“It’s not a faceless name; it’s actual people.”