Since 1990 youth from throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have gathered to live in community and participate in service programming to help those from our Archdiocese who are in need. Reach Out Reach In has involved hundreds of teens. In continuation of that tradition, we gather to focus on direct service and advocacy.
An essential element to the Reach Out Reach In community is people who have given their time to be a guide, companion, and mentor to the teens who come for this journey. Without their energy, faith, and commitment, Reach Out Reach In would not be possible.
THE MISSION OF REACH OUT REACH IN
Reach Out Reach In is an intense service week engaging teens ages 15-18 in direct service, community and simple living, justice, and prayer. We seek to make a difference and strive to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, where the gifts of all are given and received. Our purpose is to help young people experience and respond from a faith perspective to social issues in the greater Milwaukee area.
THE GOALS OF REACH OUT REACH IN
- To engage the Reach Out Reach In community in direct service opportunities throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
- To empower the Reach Out Reach In community in transforming their lives and the lives of the people they serve.
- To provide participants with the skills of critical reflection for justice and peace in the Catholic Tradition.
- To challenge participants to see themselves as servant leaders and live in the Spirit of Christ.
- To become a witness in our communities, giving voice to the week’s experiences of service, community and simple living, justice and prayer.
Follow the daily reflections and accounts of our teens and adults serving at Reach out Reach In this summer!
Greetings from Reach Out Reach In! 52 youth and 17 adults gather before heading out to 13 work sites. We have been challenged in morning prayer to bring the light of Christ to all we meet.
This year we are staying at Dominican High School when we return from our work sites. They have been so accommodating, turning their board room into a cozy meeting space for our teens. Today we purchase
d some new pillows to add to the comfort. A few sites we visited today will follow.
This is my third year being a participant of Reach Out Reach In and I am at the site of Project Ujima; a day camp for children the age of 7-18 who have been victims of violence or have lost a parent or loved one due to a homicide. After my first two days of being at the camp and hanging out with the kids, it has opened my eyes to a whole different way of life and the love, joy, and openness these children still possess after all they’ve been through. Not only am I reaching out and helping and supporting these children, but they are showing the amazing ways God works in our lives and through each other. – Anne Oleniczak
The group I am lucky enough to be a part of this year is Project Ujima. Project Ujima is a very special place and today I was able to connect to the kids I met yesterday on a little deeper level through healing/sharing groups, lifestyle classes and community building activities. I am extremely thankful for this experience. – Ryan Dean
Mission trips ground me. They make me think about what is important in my life and what I need to focus on. Our news these days have been so much about violence. Some days I can hardly stand to listen to it and yet I need to remind myself that my world is bigger than just what I choose to think is in it. Violence exists and what am I doing about it? Am I turning a blind eye and pretending it doesn’t exist? There is a quote from Martin Niemoller which I often think about….
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out….
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out…
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me…. and there was no one left to speak for me.
This week I am at Project Ujima with 4 amazing teens! But I am also having to address that there is violence in the world and the children – ages 7-18 – that are at this camp have all been victims of violence or have witnessed violence in their families… gunshot wounds or domestic violence for the most part. How different their world is from mine and yet how similar. If they are all the children of God, shouldn’t I be speaking out on their behalf? Shouldn’t I be doing something besides just talking about how horrible it is? Shouldn’t I be doing something to help create a more non-violent world? What will I do? – Tanya Gross
I am going to the Urban Ecology for my worksite. My group and I have done a variety of nature-preserving activities Along with a large group of volunteers, we helped to prolong and enhance the life of God’s creation. Taking out invasive species of plant, picking up trash, and simply appreciating this beautiful place we call home are only a few of the tasks we completed.
RORI also builds a sense of community that I have never seen before Gathering teens from all over the Milwaukee area, we assist 13 different sites in our own community. Giving back, friendship and love are themes that run throughout RORI and all of the great people involved. I am blessed to be a part of RORI and plan to be for years to come. – John Koch
We have been serving at Born Farm for 26 years and we are so grateful to Chuck and Jennifer for years of guiding our teens on the joys and frustrations of farming, always with a smile. Chuck has had 2 of my sons and this year my Grandson, Ian come to the farm. This will be the last year but we are bonded for life. Thanks! ~ Mary Osep
This being my second year as an official participant of RORI, it never fails to impress me and give me new ways to explore my faith and recover what was maybe lost or buried beneath. This is truly the best service experience for a teen to go through no matter what point they at in their faith to GOD.
~ Ian Osep
My time at RORI working at the Born Family Farm has given me a change of pace than what I am used to. I’ve learned a lot from Chuck and his story is so inspiring to me. It puts a smile on Chuck’s face when we arrive for the day’s work and to me, that is the most rewarding part. ~ Maddie Schulz
This week I have been working at Easter Seals. In every camper that I had the chance to get to know, I have come to know why I was there. With every smile that comes to each camper’s face when we walk through the door my heart is instantly warmed by their love.
~ Grace Sullivan-Konyn
RORI is a very eye-opening experience for many people. I liked helping those in need. It was a good, fun-filled week with ups and downs. I would recommend it to others who are looking for a good time and looking to strengthen their faith. ~ Nick Kasun
My experience at the House of Peace has opened my eyes to the needs of my city and the people in it. I have learned that the small things can make a big difference. Although it’s important that they receive donations of clothes and food, it is easy to forget their need for basic items like toilet paper, linens, and other everyday things that they struggle to get. To see their eyes light up with the realization of the generosity of the shelter was amazing. The space itself is very welcoming. I have been blessed to be a part of the dignifying work that they do for their community. ~ Emily Burke
I spent the week at St. Joseph Academy. We had the opportunity to play with the kids in the morning and then we painted classrooms. Seeing the children’s smiles everyday was really amazing. Also, seeing the rooms after we finished painting felt fulfilling. ~ Clare Posto
As a RORI group leader for the past several years, what I’ve come to learn is the incredible power of “letting go and letting God”. The worksite and group changes each year, but the lessons learned are remarkably similar. I’ve never failed to receive more than I’ve given. I’ve never not been moved to tears at least once during the week. I’ve seen the power of God’s love glowing most brilliantly through the eyes of the marginalized, poor and vulnerable. I feel so very grateful to be given this opportunity each year. ~ Terry Schiltz- Nowak
This year was my second year at Reach Out Reach In and I have to say it was truly life-changing for me again. I was at Easter Seals this week where I worked with disabled children and teenagers. I think that this week has been just as helpful to me as it was to the disabled. It gave me new aspects on life and disabled people. At some points after I had been doing something with the kids for awhile, such as playing basketball, swimming, or just plain having a conversation with them. I would forget that they are disabled because of how well they did these things that are done by people with more abilities, such as you and me. At one point when the kids were swimming a girl with Down’s Syndrome put her head under the water, then asked me to do it too. At first I wasn’t going to do it because I was in my normal clothing, but then I asked myself, “why would I say no?” After sticking my head under, I learned something about myself: how willing I am to make them laugh. It is amazing how strong the relationships are that I built with the kids. Reach Out Reach In is a wonderful journey that I encourage everyone to take.
~ Nick Schwichtenberg