The Cranford United Methodist Church is currently preparing for an annual mission trip, the RISE program, to upstate New York. Nine high school students and four adults will take part this year from July 18-24.
"The youth enjoy doing this type of project," trip organizer Scott Moon said. "They enjoy the work, and I'm sure they don't mind getting away from Cranford for a week."
RISE - which stands for Risingville Intercommunity Service Effort - takes place in Steuben County, N.Y., about 250 miles northwest of Cranford. Steuben County is mostly rural, and has an average per-capita income of around $18,000, well below the national average of about $35,000.
Trip members will be divided into two teams, and spend the week working on various carpentry and masonry projects. These include fixing stairs and repairing sidewalks, painting and roof improvements. Past projects have included building a wheelchair ramp in a home and fixing a church's sidewalk, Moon said.
A typical work day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m., while trip members will generally have at least one night to relax and go into town, he added.
For the Steuben County residents on which the projects focus, many whom are home-bound or otherwise immobile, it provides a service; one performed by friendly, energetic visitors, Moon noted.
For the high school students participating, it is also a chance to assist those who may be less fortunate than themselves, Moon said. "It's important for the youth to see a different economic community, and to see how big a difference in someone's life you can make."
He also noted that while participants know the general county in which they'll work, participants won't know what project team they're on or in what specific location until they arrive. In the past, the teams have been housed in churches or schools.
This is not the first time many of the participants have joined the RISE Program, as CUMC has participated in it for more than 12 years, Moon said. In fact, many of this year's trip members are veterans of past ones. Jim Silkensen, one of the adult chaperones, has done it for 11 years. This is Moon's third trip, while many students have gone on RISE trips throughout their high school careers.
RISE was started in 1980 by the late Rev. Dale Forsman of the Chatham United Methodist Church. Moon noted that groups affiliated with any religious denomination are welcome to apply for a RISE trip. CUMC will also be joined by members of the Hackettstown Methodist church this year.