NEW YORK — Members of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) Seniors from across the Eastern Diocese just returned from the third annual ACYOA Seniors Mission Trip. The ACYOA Central Council partnered with Habitat for Humanity of North Central Georgia and the Armenian Church of Atlanta mission parish in Roswell, Ga., over the weekend of February 16-19.
The Mission Trip was underwritten by a grant from the Dadourian Foundation, along with funds from the ACYOA Central Council proceeds from the 2022 Bishop’s 5K, which covered the participants’ lodging, ground transportation, meals, and donation fees to take part in a Habitat for Humanity house build.
Fifteen young adults, ranging from college students to working professionals, participated in the trip and were immersed in service, education, witness, worship and fellowship. They traveled from nine states (Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin), representing ten parish communities of the Eastern Diocese. They were joined by group leader Rev. Yeprem Kelegian, along with Jennifer Morris of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and Dn. Arin Parsanian, a St. Nersess Seminarian.
The group arrived in Roswell, GA on Thursday evening and gathered together for a late night of icebreakers and deep discussion. Early Friday morning, Kelegian led the participants in prayer and reflection before the group took off for Acworth, GA, the site of the Habitat for Humanity house build. After meeting the Habitat for Humanity staff and acclimating themselves with the tasks ahead, the group got right to work — eager to lend a hand for two full work days as they diligently prepared materials and cleared the land for the build.
First time participant Karina Masoian shared, “Working with Habitat for Humanity was an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding experience. While giving community members a renewed sense of hope, our group engaged in exceptional teamwork and persevered through challenges. The workers and volunteers on the worksite enhanced our experience and showed us what true service work looks like. With their patience and passion, we not only succeeded in our altruistic work, but we also built deep relationships with one another and grew both personally and spiritually. Accompanied by faith and courage, we made so many memories and a lasting impact on one another and the individuals we served.”
After a full first day on the build site, the participants broke up into three groups and visited three homes of parishioners from the Atlanta Mission Parish. The participants entered their homes as strangers and left feeling like family, sharing life stories and spending time getting to know each other. Participants gathered back at their hotel together and participated in another late night of engaging group discussions that provided space for the participants to be vulnerable and grow deeper in their faith and prayer life.