ruth & jim mooreIn 1996, Grace Youth Director Mary Etta Heggie asked members Ruth and Jim Moore to be chaperones for the parish’s first youth mission trip. They said yes. They said yes again the next year… and the year after that. Ruth said yes for 16 years! And Jim is still saying yes 21 years later!

“Mary Etta asked if we’d like to do this and I thought, I don’t know how to hammer. I can’t do this. But he (Jim) was all excited about it so I said I’d go along,” Ruth remembers. “And it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

“Long ago I said I’d go till I’m 80 or not having fun any more,” Jim said. “Well, I turned 80, but I’m still having fun!”

Jim is one of six adults traveling with a dozen youth members to Wisconsin this summer. The group will spend a week (June 5 – 11) working with Habitat for Humanity in Washington and Dodge Counties.

Jim says it’s the kids and the worthwhile missions that keep him coming back. “It’s a lot of work. It’s not just going up there and bossing people around. But you get to work with awfully good kids and do good work.”

“People think teenagers are hard to deal with, but I haven’t found that to be the case!” Ruth commented. “They’re very respectful. They treated us so nicely, year after year. And they’re such bright kids. They go off to college and come back at Christmas and we get hugs! And some of them have done amazing things. Melanie (Jianakoplos) became a priest. Michael (Kurth) is in divinity school. Some have gone to Africa to volunteer.”

Jim’s background as a teacher and Boy Scout leader (not to mention his love of ice cream) makes him a natural in this ministry. Ruth’s nursing experience also came in handy on the trips. Both have many fond (and funny) memories, but the 2003 trip stands out in their minds. Our group from Grace traveled to Alabama and got to work with former President Jimmy Carter, the man who helped make Habitat for Humanity a household name.

“We went to Alabama and they had a completely bare area and they were going to build a subdivision — 35 houses,” Jim remembers. “When we came, they only had the foundations. And at the end of the week, there were 35 houses and some landscaping done.”

“And the Carters came to each home and gave a key, a bible and a hug to the resident,” Ruth recalls. She says that trip was definitely one of the most gratifying of her mission trip career.

Although the couple admits they sometimes wondered and worried about certain aspects of their trips, they continue to see the great value of this ministry. “I think a lot of these kids think they’re really poor because they don’t get a red convertible when they’re 16. But to go out and see somebody who has so little… it’s good for the kids to see that,” Ruth said.

“I don’t know if Mary Etta knows what she was starting when she started it, but it has become a major part of this church community,” Jim said. And even though one year has turned into 21 years of volunteering, he is happy to still be a part of this ministry, helping to shape the lives of the youth of our parish.

A History of Grace
Youth Mission Trips

1996:     Group Workcamps
Russelville, Arkansas

1997:     Group Workcamps
Benton Harbor, Michigan

1998:     Reach Workcamps
Lake City, Tennessee

1999:     Mennonite Housing
Wichita, Kansas

2000:     Homes, Inc.
Neon, Kentucky

2001:     Habitat for Humanity
Escanaba, Michigan

2002:  Habitat for Humanity
Franklin, West Virginia

2003:  Habitat for Humanity
Anniston, Alabama

2004:  Habitat for Humanity
Dowagiac, Michigan

2005:  Habitat for Humanity
Goshen, Indiana

2006:  Habitat for Humanity
Alpena, Michigan

2007:  Habitat for Humanity
Alpena, Michigan

2008:  Housing Sewanee, Inc.
Sewanee, Tennessee

2009:  Habitat for Humanity
Dowagiac, Michigan

2010:  Habitat for Humanity
Findlay, Ohio

2011:  Habitat for Humanity
Winona, Minnesota

2012:  Habitat for Humanity
Oshkosh, Wisconsin

2013:  Habitat for Humanity
West Bend, Wisconsin

2014:  Habitat for Humanity
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

2015:  Habitat for Humanity
Washington & Dodge
Counties, Wisconsin

2016:  Habitat for Humanity
Washington & Dodge
Counties, Wisconsin


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