Chapter Spotlight: St. Sahag & Mesrob Church ACYOA, Racine, WI.
The past holiday season was an active one for the St. Mesrob Church, Racine ACYOA. Its members were busy with their ministry in many aspects—everything from serving to leading, and of course, helping others.
The Racine ACYOA started out by participating in the Holiday Outreach to Armenia by sponsoring a drive to collect supplies for the FAR (Fund for Armenian Relief) Children’s Center in Yerevan. They began with a Turkey Dinner fundraiser which included a variety of favorite foods from the holiday season. This effort helped the chapter exceed their initial fundraising goal.
Their ministry continued through the month of December with Racine’s Annual Christmas Caroling. Thirty-three members of St. Mesrob’s junior and senior chapters took a Saturday to visit thirteen homes of church members who were sick, elderly, shut-in or bereaved. The visits were made to minister to their spiritual and emotional needs, while adding to the pastoral ministry of the members. During these visits, the youth were able to talk with the various members, learn their personal story and spiritual journey and bring some joy into their lives. Each visit began with singing Christmas carols and reading the Gospel, and the visit always ended with prayer.
Another form of outreach was their bi-annual blood drive, held at St. Mesrob. This year they combined the blood drive with a tavloo tournament. The blood drive took place on the 28th of December, and 32 donors gave 27 pints of blood, enough to save 81 lives. The total donated from the two drives, which the chapter sponsored in 2010 was 56 pints of blood; that’s 7 gallons and will help save over 150 lives!
After the blood drive, the ACYOA members hosted a friendly, but competitive, tavloo tournament for parishioners; the winner received a most coveted prize: their pastor’s (Fr. Yeprem Kelegian) church parking spot for three months!
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many people get lost in the craziness of it all. So, to bring members together, the ACYOA organizes an annual college night sometime between the December 25 and January 6 Christmases. The event is hosted by different members each year. On this occasion, young adults can take the time to enjoy each other’s company, participate in a Bible study and have a relaxing and captivating evening with their peers.
As if their annual Christmas caroling wasn’t enough, the chapter members continued their outreach on January 6, after the Christmas Liturgy. Eight ACYOA members visited a parishioner’s home and three nursing homes. Five additional parishioners who were either bereaved, ill or shut-ins were visited by the youth, where they sang Christmas carols and discussed various aspects of their lives. Through this ministry, the young people were able to spread cheer and joy to others while growing in their own personal faith.
Their final effort was the second FAR fundraiser, which was a Basturmas & Eggs/Pancake Brunch. The members put together another wonderful meal for their parish during Armenian Christmas to raise funds for the FAR Children’s Center. After two successful fundraisers, the St. Mesrob ACYOA was able to donate a total of about $1300 to this worthy cause.
Throughout the holiday season, the chapter members enjoyed the company of family and friends, but also were able to “give back” and impact the lives of others in need through their ministry—a gift that is irreplaceable.