This is a piece written by one of our Pathfinders - youth group members who took the opportunity last summer to volunteer in Corrymeela which is one of our chosen charities at St John's. We would welcome other students taking up the chance to go away from home (but not too far!) to help make a difference to other peoples lives. Please contact us if you are in sixth form and looking to really make a difference in a beautiful environment or you can contact Corrymeela on their websitewww.corrymeela.org. in the first instance. You may also contact Sophie here at St John's should you wish to find out about how to organise your own trip. We hope you will look at the site to learn more about their valuable work.'
In summer 2012 I spent two weeks volunteering at Corrymeela, this is a brief report of my experience.
Corrymeela, one of the Missions supported by St. John’s, is situated in Ballycastle on the Northern Ireland coastline. It is an idyllic location providing a fantastic setting to promote the peace and reconciliation goals of the Corrymeela mission.
To my surprise, the clients and volunteers at Corrymeela come from all over the globe. I worked with some amazing volunteers that are of three types; long term volunteers are there for a year and are the main leaders of the groups, mid-term volunteers come for a three month period and short-term volunteers join for two or three week cycles over the summer (all volunteers are 18 or older).
My role as a volunteer had me helping with; leading a group, cleaning the residential areas, cooking in the kitchen and an opportunity to lead worship. My best experience was working with a group of about 25, comprising mothers, grandmothers and their children. My role was to help the long-term volunteers provide fun group activities for the children. Without Corrymeela these families would have no prospect of a holiday. It was so rewarding to see how our work touched the lives of some amazing women who valued the Christian kindness, unconditional friendship and love, offered without judgement. As one might expect, the saddest part was saying goodbye.
I found my two weeks as a volunteer was not long enough, I fell in love with Corrymeela and hope to return someday soon as a mid-term volunteer (for 3 months). I came away from Corrymeela grateful for the opportunity to meet new people and become enlightened by the loving message of their work. It has reminded me again that God really does work in wonderful ways, able to bring people together, to connect and share peace. I would certainly recommend the experience to anyone!