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In spite of the pouring rain, the Wilson Youth Council shone brightly in its HopeFest Concert to benefit Hope Station. Under the shelter at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, talented youth musicians performed for a crowd of adoring parents, friends and community supporters. Other WYC members greeted attendees, collected hundreds of toiletries for the men’s shelter and sold raffle tickets for the dozens of prizes that had been donated.
Prior to the event, the youth had received funds from two-dozen sponsors who believed in our community’s youth leaders and the mission of Hope Station. Lightning cut the concert short, but it is rumored that the musicians will have the opportunity to perform again this summer.
All of this was envisioned, created, and executed by the Wilson Youth Council members themselves, following the lead of high school junior Noah Buck. For months, Noah, along with his father and brothers, had been delivering dinner to the shelter on Wednesday evenings as part of Raleigh Road Baptist Church’s outreach ministries. Noah had become particularly attached to the shelter men and wanted to do more. The other Wilson Youth Council members shared his dream and HopeFest became a reality after months of planning and rehearsals.
When so many complain about “today’s youth,” I want to affirm the gifts and talents of these young leaders, and celebrate their commitment to making the world a better place. While they could have made many other choices about how to spend their time in recent months, they chose to volunteer their time to support men who have experienced barriers to stable housing.
The city of Wilson is to be commended for investing in our award-winning Wilson Youth Council, and for providing an adviser, Theresa Mathis, who intuitively knows how to gently guide these teens while letting them soar.
The leadership of Hope Station is genuinely grateful for the generous outpouring of support from the Wilson Youth Council and wishes them success as they use their gifts and talents in service to others.
The Rev. Linda Hanna Walling
The writer is executive director of Hope Station.