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Special Needs SERVE Breaks Barriers


On most service projects, you won’t find a one-to-one ratio of participants and volunteers, a full-time registered nurse who dispenses medications, or a hospital bed standing ready should participants need it.

But that’s just what 22 teens and young adults with special needs found when they arrived for a SERVE project in Zeeland, Mich., in July.

This SERVE project, headed by Donna Bunce, Classis Zeeland’s youth coordinator, was designed especially for participants with spina bifida, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, and other conditions. They came from the United States and Canada to meet at Zeeland’s Haven Christian Reformed Church. More than 70 volunteers helped out daily, acting as buddies, assisting with meals, and providing transportation.

SERVE projects are weeklong work trips with a spiritual emphasis, which are organized for teens by Youth Unlimited, a Christ-centered youth ministry with ties to the Christian Reformed Church.

The participants served meals at the Holland (Mich.) Rescue Mission, did yard work at The Center for Women in Transition, sorted items at Ditto Re-sale store, and painted a large barn.

For Chris Doornbos, 17, evening worship was his favorite time because, he said, “I like to help with the overhead for songs.”

“I like serving, doing work, and meeting new people,” added Nick Cornell, 21. Bekki Landman, 20, said that she enjoyed sorting children’s books [at the Christian schools’ resale store]. “It just makes me appreciate more what I have.”

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