Becky Full was part of a service group from Sacred Heart High School in Sedalia, MO who made a service trip to the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago the second week of June. She wrote this essay about her experience there for her parish newsletter.
When I first told my family and friends that I would be going on a mission trip to the south side of Chicago, I received many perplexed looks. I was often asked, “What would you do there?” and “Aren’t you scared something will happen?” To be completely honest, I never knew how to answer these questions. I wasn’t nervous about where I would be, but at the same time I was skeptical about the situation. I had not known what to expect when I walked through the doors of the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation Center. It is hard to put into words the experiences and people we encountered, but what I received from this center was absolutely unbelievable.
When we first met the boys that went to the center, they were everything I expected them to be. They were normal teenage boys, but their life was far from normal. They have grown up in the middle of gang violence and it is all that they really know.  They do not expect to live beyond the age of 25. Most of them have been in jail, kicked out of school, and pursuing a gang. 
We would all walk down the streets of Chicago together and received looks from the people passing; some people would even move further away from us. I was absolutely shocked people would do that, but the boys did not think anything of it.
But when you talked to them, you could not tell these things happened to them at all, except when we were in “circle time.” Circle time requires a talking piece and involves someone asking a question and the people in the circle would pass the talking piece around to answer it. During our last circle time at the center, we were asked to pick a card with a picture on it that described our week in Chicago. There were many different options, but I chose the rainbow because it symbolized two things for me. The first was because it rained a lot while we were there, but the second was because a rainbow is God’s way of telling the world that even after a bad storm, something good and beautiful will appear. To me, the center is the rainbow in its neighborhood. It helps keep the boys off of the streets and even has a community garden with beautiful plants. The center is a place where the boys can go to feel safe and loved, a feeling that is rare in their lives. Sister Donna and Sister Carolyn are even referred to by some as being their “moms,” because both women watch over the boys and make sure they feel worthy.
My whole perspective of the south side of Chicago and the people living there changed when I went on the mission trip. Every day I would see the good that is trying to blossom from the bad, just like a rainbow. Sure, these boys may dress, talk, and look differently than we do, but it doesn’t mean they have different feelings than we do. They deserve to be loved, cared for, and made sure they are safe just like the rest of us. They have so much more potential for their lives than being in a gang and that is what the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation Center is trying to tell them. They deserve a chance.