“IN LAK’ECH, ALA K’IN” is a Mayan phrase that means I Am Your Other You, You Are My Other Me. It’s a statement about unity and oneness that First Congregational Church of Westfield made their own during a week of volunteering, education and living with members from other churches throughout the country in Denver, Colorado.

Arriving at the Mile High City, 17 youth and 11 chaperones worked with DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection) from July 9-15. The Mayan words and a number of verses from the Bible that relate to the same ideas were used as inspiration while serving 10 agencies throughout Denver and the surrounding area.

Split into five teams, the groups donated their time to working with efforts such as The King Adult Day Enrichment Program (KADEP), a life-affirming day program for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), traumatic brain injury and other acquired neurological conditions; Food Bank of the Rockies, the largest hunger relief organization in the Rocky Mountain region; and Brothers Redevelopment, which provides affordable housing for low income families.

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When not serving, the group headed to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to explore Red Rocks, the Town of Morrison and the Red Rocks Trading Post and Hiking Trail. They also visited the grave of Wild Buffalo Bill Cody and took a tour of the Denver Bronco’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.

The FCC contingent was led by Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea, Senior Minister and Rev. Joy Mounts, Associate Minister. Chaperones included: Cindy and Kelsey Boyea, Steve Elkin, Geoff Marino, Steve Motyczka, Ani Hsu Obrock, Joe Regan, Lisa Riedell, Denise Schifando and Deb Volz. Student representatives included: Grace Ahlen, Michael Bonnell, Joey and Laurel Elkin, Nattie Fountain-Jardim, Joey Larmore, Mason Marino, Madeline and Margo Motyozka, David Reidell, Jonathan Saminski, Giavanna Schifando, Isaac Scott, Rachel Synder-Mounts, Maggie Traina and Zach Volz.

This is the 10th consecutive Summer that First Congregational Church has participated in this kind of trip. Previous trips have included visits to Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Wyoming, San Antonio, Vermont and Chicago. Themed Fundraisers throughout the year help underwrite the cost of travel. New this year was Tag the Bag, where the name of each person who made a donation was written (tagged) on a backpack that was  brought to Denver, and a Trivia Night dinner and silent auction.

First Congregational Church, a member of the United Church of Christ, is located at 125 Elmer Street in Westfield. For additional information on Youth and Outreach opportunities, please contact 908-233-2494 or visit their website at fccofwestfield.org.