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Many 4-H members including Dorothy Zaugg & Mara Jessen spent quality time with Des Moines children

Several Benton County 4-H members spent one weekend in April in Des Moines' inner-city visiting, helping and learning from faith-based organizations that are working among the poor. They hung out with the homeless, fed the hungry and handed out clothes to the poor. Benton 4-H team members were able to discover their passion and gifts as well as how to use their passion/gifts to back home in Vinton.

"Our vision is to provide an opportunity for groups to leave the comfort of the suburbs and the safety of the small town and enter the inner-city where they discover how they can come alongside an existing social entrepreneur to help meet the needs of the poor, homeless and destitute," says Rachel Beach, one of the Urban Plunge staff members. "Our objective is not to provide a 'tour of poverty,' but to help participants grasp how they can use their talents and passions to assist a social-service agency, or even start something similar in their own neighborhood. We take participants out of their comfort zone, let them experience first hand what is happening in the inner-city, discover their passions and talents and challenge them to make a difference."

Together, she said, the Urban Plunge works with each group to meet two needs:

1. Increase the volunteer capacity of local organizations that serve the poor. The Urban Plunge does not start a new ministry, but rather comes alongside existing local organizations to increase volunteers.

2. Urban Plunge also engages followers of Christ to: “move out of the pews and into the streets.” The Plunge will mobilize a church and plant the seed and passion for ministry and social action among its participants. It leads participants to discover how they can use their passions and talents to make a difference for Christ; providing hands on leadership development for this generation that wants so much to be like Christ.

One of the places where the 4-H members served was Reggie's Place, which is named after Reggie Kelsey, a homeless teen who died in 2001 in the Des Moines River.

See more photos HERE.

A lot of background information is available online at:

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