Left to right: Chaeli Austin, Elizabeth Hokanson and Karise Francis

Youth Multiply Blessings in Iron Mountain Community

During the Michigan Conference's Upper Peninsula camp meeting, some youth were given a mission along with $50. They were directed to “bless Iron Mountain,” the local community near Camp Sagola in Michigan.

Taking to heart the parable of the talents, Karise Francis and Chaeli Austin found a creative way to multiply what they had received with their group.

“We took our $50 and went around to the rest of the adults on campus to ask if they’d be willing to help us with a donation to bless Iron Mountain,” says Chaeli. “Only starting at $50, we went to $533, and that helped us in so many ways.”

After multiplying their offering, the group went directly to the Iron Mountain police station to see if they could donate to them or another place they suggested. The police station directed them to a local domestic assault shelter.

“We were able to buy many things for them: groceries, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies,” Karise expressed.

When the group returned, loaded with their donations, a volunteer at the shelter was amazed and overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving.

“We also were able to pray with her, and she just was so touched,” she recalled.

With some money still left over, they returned to the police station to ask if they could help anywhere else. Once more, the police station directed them to an auto body shop to help pay for people’s bills that they were not able to pay.

Before they left the station, Karise and Chaeli’s group thanked the officers with cookies for their service and gave them stuffed animals to put in their squad cars for when they helped children.

Arriving at their new destination, Chaeli greeted the people at the desk and explained what they wanted to do.

“The guy looked at me and said, ‘You want to do what?’” Chaeli recalled. “Because who helps with that these days?”

They began discussing which car owner could use some help and decided on a woman on disability named Mary. Since the beginning of the year, Mary had been saving up for a $600 car part. Now in September, she had stopped at the shop earlier that day only to realize she was still short the needed amount.

“Such an opportunity! We were able to help out with $200 towards her bill,” says Chaeli. “Not only was it so fun for us to bless her, but they were just amazed that someone would be willing to help someone they didn’t know. I know it’s such a blessing and so much fun to be able to serve and to just give to the community. And it’s a blessing, especially to other young people who are on fire for Christ.”


Katie Fellows, Lake Union Communication assistant