- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2008

The message of faith came out yesterday as thousands of children and young adults concluded 10 days of Global Youth Services in the region.

It was especially clear when James Burton, a director at the Federal City Shelter in Northwest, greeted a dozen young Italians who came to help the facility’s roughly 1,300 homeless men and women.

“Faith, that is how you got here. Welcome, angels,” he said upon pointing them toward cans of paint and brushes, near huge rooms filled with double-decker bunk beds, many piled with clothing.

Mr. Burton also said the worldwide problems of homeless and domestic violence must be stopped now and can be solved only through faith.

The cleanup effort at the shelter, at 425 Second St. NW, was just one of many projects this weekend across the region and around the world.

Other projects by area volunteers included landscaping the District’s Lamond Riggs Library, participating in a toy drive for Children’s Hospital, making sandwiches for residents at the Franklin Shelter in Northwest, teaching HIV/AIDS prevention on Capitol Hill and painting murals at Burrville Elementary School in Northeast.

Christina Wessell Batcheler, a director of Global Youth Service, did not know how many people volunteered this year but said about 30,000 area volunteers participated last year.

The 20th annual Global Youth Service weekend is considered one of the largest service events in the world.

Organizers say the millions of young people in roughly 100 countries — from Afghanistan to Mexico — were expected to take part in the annual event.

“Young people are changing the world through their energy, idealism, and ingenuity,” said Steven A. Culbertson, president and chief executive officer of Youth Service America. “They possess the desire to help solve some of the world’s most complex problems like global climate change, poverty, education health and HIV/AIDS.”

Young people in Iran were expected to coordinate community beautification campaigns in 57 villages. The projects were organized by the Center for Advancement of Rural Women.

Although the Italian group spent much of their time in the region working and in work clothes, members also visited such sites as the National Gallery of Art, the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Mall, where they saw the Washington Monument and the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.

They began yesterday with visits to the Catholic Holy Rosary Church and the Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Mr. Burton, 67, said poverty, domestic violence and tragedy hit all people, regardless of race, religion or homeland, and spoke about his own experiences. He said his father mistreated him, his mother and sisters before both parents disappeared and he was taken to an orphanage.

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