Keith Mutinda, left, and other Flight participants work on landscaping the sign at the entrance to Diakon's Frostburg Heights Apartments in western Maryland.

The Flight Program soars to western Maryland, crosses generations

Frostburg, Md.    Saturday, August 17, 2013

The residents' “stories were great,” says Keith Mutinda, a participant in Diakon's Flight Program. “It felt like they cared about me and really wanted to hear about my life, too ....”

Several participants of the youth-mentoring program recently traveled to Frostburg Heights, a Diakon Lutheran Senior Housing apartment complex in western Maryland, to tend flower gardens and build a planter at the building's entrance.

Working with those who have "aged out" of traditional youth services, the Flight Program provides a year-long experience for youths who volunteer to participate; all have been previously enrolled in traditional youth services, such as those based at the Diakon Wilderness Center.

“It felt like they cared about me and really wanted to hear about my life, too ....”

The goal of the program is to provide the support necessary for the young adults to build successful lives at home, work, and school. Typically, for example, Flight participants are enrolled in college or trade school while also holding down jobs. They also work together on a variety of community-service projects, supporting one another as they jointly build new lives.

The Flight program-completed plant bed at Frostburg Heights Apartments.

The Flight program-completed plant bed at Frostburg Heights Apartments.


"It was so nice to visit with and help out the residents," says Flight participant Jamile Madison. "We ate dinner with them and they were so kind to us. It feels great to be able to give back." Both members of the Frostburg Heights community and Flight participants enjoyed a question-and-answer session during visit, during which the youths and the residents were able learn more about each other.

At that session, says Rebecca Brown-McCusker, manager of the rental-subsidy complex, "the fund-raising committee presented the Flight crew with the $320 proceeds from a bake sale held in June. Many residents were so impressed with these young men that they, with the committee, want to have a 'bakeless bake sale' and a drive for non-perishable foods for them."

Other Flight participants will return to Frostburg Heights in November to help hang holiday lights and decorations. "At that time," says Brown-McCusker, "we will present the Flight crew with proceeds from the bakeless bake sale and the food drive."

"We’re going to keep fostering this relationship," notes Matt Reichard, director of the Flight program who, along with Rob Kivlan, former Flight director and now a Diakon development officer supporting Diakon Youth Services, assisted in the Frostburg work, "because it is definitely a win-win situation for all of us. We’re already looking forward to coming back."

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