Taking the Plunge
By Cheryl Van Beek
A group of Iowa youth traded in a relaxing weekend to take the plunge, the Urban Plunge—48 hours of working with people in the inner city: feeding the homeless, visiting the elderly, sorting clothing, and serving, serving, serving.
The group, from First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids, Iowa, stepped out of their suburban bubble to discover what life is like for many people who are less fortunate in and around their own community.
"It helped me realize that things like poverty and homeless people exist in our own backyards," says student Drew Roskam. "It gave me a desire to do more for my community back home."
"It makes me think about all the blessings I have," says Sara Groen, another participant. "It hurt my heart to see the children in need. It's easy to stay in our own worlds, and not see those in need."
The team visited eight faith-based organizations that work among people in the inner city. Urban Plunge, operated by Christ for the City International, does not provide a "tour of poverty" but instead helps participants to grasp how they can use their talents and passions to assist faith-based, social-service agencies that already work alongside people who are in great need. They aim to meet needs, offer practical love and assistance, and ignite lasting passions to help back home. And with this group, they were successful.
"I enjoyed seeing the many types of places people can volunteer, and seeing the smiles on the kids' faces impacted my life," says Justin Groen. "I have always enjoyed helping people, but I'm now seeing it in a new light."
The Urban Plunge operates in Omaha, Kansas City, Dallas, Lincoln, Des Moines, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Sioux Falls. For more information, visit www.urbanplunge.com.
Cheryl Van Beek is family life and education director at First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids, Iowa.