Youth volunteers will do home repairs June 14-20 to help United Way in Morrow County


By Anthony Conchel - aconchel@aimmediamidwest.com



MOUNT GILEAD — Group workcamps are coming this summer, as part of the United Way of Morrow County’s project to help local residents fix up their homes.

They are intensive one week-trips that help people grow in Christian faith through service. Jodi Hayes, executive director, wanted to bring the workcamps here.

“I had been approached by a teacher at Park Avenue Middle School that is involved in group workcamps. You help coordinate buying supplies, and youth come in to do the repairs.”

The program began in 1977 after heavy flooding hit Colorado when a group of churches got together to rebuild homes.

Hundreds of teenagers from youth groups across the country repair and transform homes while deepening their faith and building new relationships with their peers.

Locally Hayes hopes that several hundred high school-aged students will arrive here and work June 14-20. Elderly, low-income and disabled residents are urged to apply. Deadline to apply is March 2.

During a home repair mission trip, participants generally stay at a local school that is full of fun and energy throughout the week as they engage in indoor and outdoor games, share meals together, and participate in worship and teaching during morning and evening programs.

“We want the community to be a part of this,” Hayes said. “We need sponsors to help pay for supplies. We want people to bring them popsicles or cookies, little treats, during the days they are here.”

Mount Gilead High School will serve in that role, where students will be housed and fed, culminating with a Friday evening program where residents who had work done are invited to share with the volunteers.

John Harsch has been involved in the program as part of his church and has traveled to several states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana to help with projects.

“It’s very rewarding,” Harsch said. “They are organized and there is a nationwide theme. It is very non-denominational.”

Work may include porch repair, exterior and interior painting, minor roofing, mobile home skirting, weatherization and step repair. No plumbing or electrical work is performed.

Hayes said $20,000 is needed to be raised in order to pay for some of the costs involved. Campers pay a fee to participate.

“The campers pay $400 apiece to come do the work for a week and sleep on a high school classroom floor,” Harsch said.

Apart from the hard manual labor, there is some fun on tap. Cardington is planning a street carnival for the youth Wednesday that week.

“At some camps I’ve been to, church groups will bring in watermelon, ice cream or a snow-cone machine for the campers,” Harsch said.

“We want to show these kids that we welcome them. It’s a great opportunity to some for the businesses that have merchandise that have Mount Gilead or Morrow County on it,” Hayes said.

According to its website, “Our home repair mission trips are mid-sized gatherings with up to 400 teenage participants that focus specifically on residential home repair. The types of home repair projects range from painting, to building decks and wheelchair ramps, and other general home repairs, but the service projects often are secondary to the spiritual growth that happens when teenagers step out of their own worlds and serve those in need.”

Those interested in applying for repairs or helping support the project should contact Hayes at 419-946-2053. She has received some applications and they can be picked up at the United Way office.

Information on the camps is available at groupmissiontrips.com.

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By Anthony Conchel

aconchel@aimmediamidwest.com