Ship’s ahoy! Christian Youth Corps will serve at naval park
Pete Andrews, the founder and director of the CYC, explained that he considers this new project a “one in a lifetime opportunity.
“These projects give kids the opportunity to experience a lot of different trades, taught by a professional,” he said. “We have always had interesting projects and never charge for anyone to participate. That’s our part of the bargain. We provide the tools, the leadership and the education, and they provide the enthusiasm and the willingness to learn.”
Inviting both current and first-time CYC volunteers to participate, including groups, Andrews said the Buffalo Naval Servicemen’s Park Service Opportunity will allow participants to live on the USS Little Rock, the USS Sullivan or the USS Croaker and to learn about carpentry, landscaping, welding, fabrication, painting, cleaning and cooking.
The weekend will not be all work and no play, however. In addition to having the chance to sleep on the ships and like seamen for the weekend, participants can take part in several events planned in conjunction with the service trip.
“There is a radio club that uses the ship’s radio to communicate with other ships and aircraft carriers as far away as the Mediterranean, so we’re hoping to be able to sit in and communicate with them,” Andrews said.
In addition, a “Rock the Lakes” baseball game will take place at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo on Saturday night, including performances by local bands before the game. Submarine tours and group activities, as well as a basket raffle, will also be on offer.
Although the ships can sleep up to 400 people, Andrews said he hopes to see approximately 150 participants in attendance.
“So far, there [are groups booked] from Delevan, Amherst, Arcade and Springville. You really don’t know until the day of,” he explained. “We try to find stuff that is very educational, to give kids the opportunity to learn skills they can use for the rest of their life.”
Unlike many other service organizations, the CYC does minimal fundraising, Andrews noted. He said that the group’s self-sufficiency is in keeping with its mission of faith in oneself and in God.
“[The funding] comes out of the blue. We only do a couple of fundraisers a year. That’s the way the organization is designed. We teach a strong work ethic, to depend on yourself. God gives us all talents. It is up to us to find and use those talents to the best of our ability,” he said.
“What kind of message would we be giving if we were out on the street passing the hat at the same time we were teaching kids to depend on your own resources? We do not depend on the government; we depend on ourselves and the skills that God has given us.”
Although the rent from the apartments above the CYC headquarters in Delevan does bring in some revenue, Andrews said that donations and “walking on faith” pay for most of the projects.
“It’s all done by faith. God will supply the money as long as we keep our minds and work as good stewards,” he noted.
“Faith is trusting that we will have the resources to fulfill our reasonable expectations of what we need to happen. Dreaming is putting everything into something that has very little chance of happening, without any preparation. We’re beyond faith, at this point. We always know it’s going to come. We just don’t know when.”
In order to explain his motivation for starting the CYC, Andrews referenced other community action groups he had seen, both locally and nationally. He said that he saw how those other organizations operated and wanted to make a difference, in a way that correlated with what he called “the hand of God.
“The reason we got started is, too many times, I saw these other charity groups rescuing people from the hand of God,” he said. “I have learned a lot from ending up at the bottom of the barrel. If you rescue people from making those bad decisions, you’re depriving them of the chance to learn from them. And I would never want to be a part of that.”
The next major event the CYC will undertake will be in conjunction with the Franklin Graham Ministries, a national evangelical initiative that has chosen Buffalo as one of its Rock the Lakes outreach project sites this year.
“We had a meeting with Franklin Graham, and they talked about revitalizing six blocks in Buffalo, but I had a really hard time with that,” Andrews explained, regarding the CYC’s role in the program. “We’d have to vet every person to make sure we were blessing them, not just giving aid to people who were not going to use it appropriately. So, Franklin Graham is still going to be doing that, but we are making it even bigger. Franklin Graham has never done a project to this extent, and they are very, very excited.”
From Aug. 20 – 24, CYC will be implementing what Andrews called a “huge network of projects, from Old Fort Niagara, Allegany State Park, Evangola State Park, Letchworth State Park, the [Buffalo] Zoo, museums and more.”