All Saints Episcopal youth give of self in second poorest Florida county

All Saints Episcopal youth give of self in second poorest Florida county
All Saints Episcopal Youth Group at Real Life Youth Ranch
Janie and Hillary Citrano help with landscaping for seniors with special needs.

Janie and Hillary Citrano help with landscaping for seniors with special needs.

A group of 16 All Saints Episcopal Church youth and five adults spent five days of mission work, faith, and fun in Pahokee, Florida, the second poorest community in the United States.

During that time, they lived at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palm Beach Gardens, and served at the Real Life Youth Ranch, a foster home for abandoned or abused children.

After spending mornings sorting and organizing donations at the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County, cleaning up yards and repairing homes for seniors with special needs, receiving, sorting and packing food donations at the Palm Beach County Food Bank, caring for animals at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue, and serving disabled adults at Seagull Services, the group finished each day at Real Life Youth Ranch.

The ranch is a faith-based ministry that offers residential family-style group foster homes for boys and girls and animals, too, said Hillary Citrano, All Saints Director of Christian Formation Children’s and Youth Ministry.

“We assisted with property maintenance, grounds keeping and landscaping, but the most important part of our mission…the game changer for all hearts involved…was the one-on-one time we got to spend with the children,” Citrano said. “We brought crafts, games, fishing poles, slip and slide and some good ol’ fashioned outdoor games. No electronics!” 

Activities included tutoring, reading, and playing games with the children of the ranch.

“There were some tough questions from the teens when we debriefed in the evening, but I hope I was able to get the message across that we are here to remind these precious children, that they are gifts and special and here for a purpose,” said Citrano.

In addition to Citrano, adult chaperones included Marla Anderson, Renae Black, Carl Simmons, and David Dufresne. The youth who attended were Zachary Mattson, Tanner Mattson, Nicholas Rukab, Hannah Rukab, Meghan McGovern, Mason McGovern, Jimmy Citrano, Janie Citrano, Emily Citrano, Aaron Black, Laina Parry, Karsen Newman, Amelia Anderson, Haleigh Marlow, Alexia Smith, and Nick Mosely.    

Citrano said as they were packing up the last night, the youth came up with an idea to host a spaghetti lunch and sending 100 percent of the proceeds to the Real Life Ranch for school supplies. 

“It is such a blessing to witness the youth jump in and give 110 percent in a world where all there seems to be on some days is nothing but negative news,” Citrano said.

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