SHREVEPORT — Eleven Ark-La-Tex congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted children from Volunteers of America North Louisiana’s LightHouse program for an uplifting day of service and play.
As the kids arrived and unloaded from the buses, a tunnel of cheering young women, ages 11-18, greeted them. The Wizard of Oz theme, “There’s No Place like Home” carried throughout the day with face paints, crafts, and carnival games. The day culminated with lunch and an ultimate dance party, a yearly tradition.
Festivities were part of the youth’s weeklong, annual Girl’s Camp that focuses on building faith in Jesus Christ. One young woman, Ruth Bodily, said, “Spending time with the LightHouse kids and helping them feel special was a fantastic experience. It’s a small thing to let a five-year-old do your face paint or help her do an art project, but it means the world to the kid.” This kind of outward focus on service is part of the goal of the Young Women’s program of the church.
The joy and excitement felt palpable as the young women served the younger children. Kabri Stone, a young woman from camp, stated, “While the LightHouse kids were there the young women stopped worrying about themselves and how they could make themselves happy and put all their energy on making sure the LightHouse kids were having fun, feeling loved, and feeling like kings and queens.” A staff member from the LightHouse program told the camp director as she looked on at the scene of merriment, “This is God right here.”
The tradition, which started five years ago, has become a favorite part of the summer for the LightHouse kids and the highlight of Girl’s Camp for the youth in attendance. Andrea Mason, Young Women’s President, recalls that the idea started when the young women stated that they wanted to interact with those they serve, not just make kits to send off. Andrea contacted Volunteers of America North Louisiana and the partnership blossomed from there.
In March 2019, Volunteers of America North Louisiana recognized the Young Women’s service by presenting President Andrea Mason with their Beacon of Hope award for the years of service and collaboration with the LightHouse program.