Watkins Glen’s handsome downtown area, nestled against scenic Seneca Lake, makes the village one of the most popular tourist stops in all of New York state. Yet at the same time, Jeanne Pavlina said that many of Schuyler Catholic Community’s youths may not even know they reside in the state’s second-poorest county.
Pavlina, the Schuyler cluster’s youth-ministry and faith-formation coordinator, said she encourages young parishioners toward social-ministry projects in order to heighten awareness about what exists right in their back yard — extreme poverty in the rural settings that define most of the county. This reality spurred a recent fundraiser, with the youths donating supplies and cash to people served by Schuyler Outreach.
"To see their faith in action is what they need. And this is one way they can do it," Pavlina said.
The teens staged collections after Masses on the weekends of April 27 and May 4 at the entrances to both Schuyler churches, St. Mary of the Lake in Watkins Glen and St. Benedict in Odessa. Pavlina estimated that 15 to 20 teens took part in the successful effort, which saw them raise $300 to $400. Teens then went out and purchased personal-hygiene supplies such as deodorant, soap and feminine-hygiene products, which will come in especially handy as the weather gets warmer. From there, they donated the items — along with a good sum of cash left over — to Schuyler Outreach, an agency of Catholic Charities that is located at the parish center of St. Mary of the Lake.
Pavlina said the idea for this project stemmed from a visit the parish youths made to Schuyler Outreach during which Nancy Brand, director, spoke of the needs of the people she serves.
"It was highly motivating to them," she said.
She added that the recent effort was the latest in a yearlong focus on local outreach by Schuyler Catholic Community’s young people. Other activities have included preparing and delivering meals for senior citizens, along with a "birthday club" that provides cake, party supplies and favors for children whose families are in poverty. Pavlina remarked that without the birthday club, "maybe they won’t get a birthday party."