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LIFT Ministry Helps Do Something NICE
By Shawn Maree McCowan - June 17, 2010

Members of a new Rock Church ministry, LIFT, came out to do something nice for Lincoln High School Saturday, June 12, 2010, as they helped to supervise over 100 students who beautified the school grounds in preparation for graduation ceremonies.

The effort was part of NICE (Neighborhood Improvement Community Effort), a LIFT program. LIFT stands for Liberty, Independence, Freedom and Transformation. The goal of the Rock Church ministry is to encourage people to use their gifts to transform the inner city. 

LIFT will officially kick off its ministry July 24, 2010, with LIFToff!, an outreach featuring live rock and rap bands, pro skaters and artists. The ministry will provide tutoring, etiquette and social enrichment programs for teens, and business startup training for adults.

Michael McCowan has always had a heart for Southeast San Diego. After moving back to the area in September and hosting a Do Something! small group, he developed the idea of LIFT. Michael is a former Southeast San Diego apartment manager and now the leader of LIFT ministry leader.

“I see the great need for change for people in the inner city,” said Michael.  “The only one who really transforms and enables us to be the best we can be and do what we are designed to do is the Lord, but He can use different segments of society to come together to help accomplish the goal of transformation.”

On Saturday, many students showed up at Lincoln to complete community service hours in fulfillment of their graduation requirements, but others showed up simply to volunteer to help the school community.

"It was a wonderful experience to be out there and meet lots of great kids, encouraging and serving alongside them to help keep Lincoln High a beautiful campus," said Melissa D’Amour, executive director of LIFT. 

With supervision and encouragement from a few teachers and NICE volunteers, students scraped up gum remains, wiped down tables and rails, picked up trash and used leaf blowers to remove debris from the grounds.

“We had the kids,” said principal Mel Collins. “My concern was having enough adults. Thanks to you, we did. You guys provided the direction and the kids enjoyed having somebody other than myself. These are great kids and they’re going to do great things.”

Minor Courtney, plant operation supervisor at Lincoln High, told NICE volunteers that he was thankful for their help and the help of the students.

“I appreciate when folks of the community take time out to help our school,” Courtney said. “This is going to help our custodial staff 1,000% because we won’t have to pull out the 100 bags of trash you picked up today. Next week we can do meaningful work” to prepare for graduation ceremony on June 18.

Amandria Gates, 18, was grateful for the opportunity that principal Mel Collins gave to the seniors, many of whom would not be able to walk and receive their diplomas without making up hours missed due to tardies, absences or other transgressions. She thanked the NICE volunteers for showing up to help.

“You guys helped a lot because you guys stayed on us” to encourage the completion of the work, she said with a smile. She plans to study pre-nursing at California State Dominguez Hills but said she will miss her Lincoln days.

“There’s a lot of memories here,” Amandria added, reminiscing as she looked around the campus.  “I’ll miss the class of 2010.  We’ve been together for three years and we’ve grown a lot.”

For more information on LIFT, visit www.LIFTintheCity.org.