Under brilliant blue skies Sunday, October 17, several members of our SVOTS community "Bridged the Gap" between rich and poor by participating in a walk-a-thon across the Brooklyn Bridge. The fundraiser will benefit the Youth Equipped to Serve (YES) Program , an Orthodox Christian ministry that trains youth as service leaders and promotes outreach to their communities. More than $2,500 was raised by the walk.
"Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge aimed to demonstrate the importance of 'Bridging the Gap' between the rich and the poor," said Katrina Bitar, SVOTS alumna ('09) and program director for YES. "The YES approach begins with breaking down stereotypes and poverty awareness, and ends with engaging our youth in situations where they see Christ in everyone and choose to be Christ for every person they encounter, ultimately creating a oneness with all people through serving each other. The ultimate goal of the YES Program is to equip a generation of youth to be service leaders who will lead others in meeting the needs of the neighbors in their communities."
Maggie Downham, 2nd-year student at SVOTS and YES leader, helped Ms. Bitar organize the walk, which included participants not only from St. Vladimir's Seminary but also YES students from local parishes in the Greek and Antiochian Archdioeses and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Our Chancellor, Fr. Chad Hatfield, led the SVOTS contingent.
First-year seminarian Jesse Brandow explained why he wanted to participate, saying, "I wanted to walk in support of YES because the kind of work they do with teens has the power to transform them, to wake them up to the gospel. It was also just a beautiful day to walk with a bunch of friends!"
YES is a program under the umbrella of FOCUS North America , an Orthodox Christian agency that expresses Christ's love by following the dictates of the gospel to feed and clothe the hungry, to minister to the imprisoned and sick, and to create loving bonds among peoples in all strata of society. The Rev. Justin Mathews, also a SVOTS alumnus, is the Executive Director and CEO of FOCUS.
View the photo gallery  of the walk, by Tanya Hoff.