Lois Dunnaway felt called to be more involved with Mid-Missouri Mission Team (3MT) service projects as a youth leader at her church and hasn't looked back.
In 2012, she moved from attending worship the week of the event to treasurer of 3MT, a non-profit group with a mission of sharing the love of Jesus. Since 2005, the youth-based group has traveled to communities in the summer for a week of projects.
Four years ago, the projects began in California, and volunteer numbers have grown.
Dunnaway, who is the youth leader at Friendship Baptist Church, said she was drawn to helping people right here in her own town.
"I don't travel well," Dunnaway said. "So for me, this was a great way to do missions. The very first year was very impactful on me, and it really locked me in. I feel like that year I really became a servant of God, not just a believer and a follower."
The organization sends crews of youths and adults to complete outdoor projects; this year, the teams will be sent from July 13-20. Beautifying yards and painting are a few tasks participants can expect.
Over a dozen area churches — including First Baptist Church of California, Friendship Baptist Church and United Church of Christ — will serve as host for the event. They will be providing lunch meals, water, supplies, coordinate projects and chaperone.
Every crew will consist of adults, six youth and college-aged students. Seventh-graders and older will use the California Middle School as boarding for the week.
The Rev. Joe Banderman, who is the youth minister at First Baptist Church, said the mission event is often the first for many youth.
"Student life in junior high and college can be the most selfish time of your life," Banderman said.
Giving back to neighbors can have a big impact on youth, he added. The projects make everyone involved more aware of the things happening around them.
During that week, United Church of Christ will host 7 p.m. worship.
The mission experience is interdenominational and lasts one week, but organizers said they don't want the desire to serve to cease.
"Even though we do the event in the summer, it shouldn't just end there, Dunnaway said. "This should be the jump start to say, 'Hey, let's see what we can do in our community.'"
Those interested in participating in the event may call 3MT at 573-378-0511.
A spaghetti dinner and auction fundraiser will be held April 27 at Main Street Baptist Church to help offset the expenses for the 3MT mission experience this summer. Dinner will be served 5-7 p.m. at Main Street Baptist Church 303 West Main St. The live auction begins at 7 p.m. For information about tickets call 573-378-0511.
Tickets bought in advance are $7 for adults and children 5 and under are $4. Or tickets at the door are, 5 and under $5 adults $8.