Last weekend we had our annual American Red Cross Youth Costume Party and Recruitment fair. The youth did a great job of planning more of it this year and we were really pleased with how it turned out (despite chaperones backing out on us at the last minute). It went a lot smoother than last year when we didn't know at all what we were doing and had just started leading this group. We had several new people come who are interested in joining the group, so that was great too!
It was a lot of work and we were really exhausted on Sunday. We were also really emotionally drained since we found out some very sad news on Saturday before the party. A few of the youth started calling us Saturday morning and Andy got an email telling/asking us about rumors that one of the Red Cross youth volunteers had died the night before. He was a very fun, motivated 16 year old who had been really involved with our youth program this year and last year. We were shocked and tried to find out what was going on. After talking to everyone and trying to verify as much as possible, we found out that it was true and very tragic. We were worried about how to handle the party that night, but both of our ministry backgrounds kicked in and we tried to handle it as best as we could. We told Andy's boss and staff who needed to know and talked to a few of the youth who were the closest to him to see how they were doing. We decided to go on with the party that the kids had worked so hard on to give them a sense of "normality" and also a safe place to be together. Some of the teens were not very affected and others were. We were just trying to listen and be there for them.
Andy has had to deal with this all week and he will be attending the funeral tomorrow. He is presenting a flag to the family on behalf of the American Red Cross for the youth's service. Please keep the family in your prayers - they are really going through a lot right now. He had a 14 year old sister who is also a volunteer in our program and we hope to try and reach out to her and her family in any way possible in the future.
After all this (and me having a stressful week at work since my boss has been on vacation and I had to be in charge), we are looking forward to visiting Andy's family and relaxing this weekend!