About 400 youths coming this summer to repair homes

February 05, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - About 400 young people from all over the country will come to Mercer County this summer to help other people.

Group Workcamps sends teams of youths, ages 14-20, all across the United States to repair homes, including painting, repairing windows, and replacing portions of structures for residents who can't do it themselves.

That is how Lori Ewing explains the non-denominational Christian group that organizes the teams of youths. During the past two summers, 17 youths and adults from Shakertown Baptist Church went to Sutton, W.Va., and an Indian reservation in North Dakota. Ewing and Pam Ward were the adult sponsors.

It costs each child about $400 to join the teams, and when the Mercer County kids made their trips, they had to do a lot of fund-raising in advance. "We sold candy bars, held car washes and generally bugged a lot of people," said Ewing.


"There are kids in New York raising money so they can come to Mercer County."

Oddly enough, while the kids are raising money for the trip, local leaders are having trouble finding work for them. With 400 kids, 70-75 homes can be repaired.

Residents do not have to be disabled or without income. The projects can be those the residents can't do themselves or are unable to pay for them in a world where just getting by can be a challenge.

The teams will be here June 17-July 3; however, the homes they repair do not have to be in Harrodsburg and Mercer County, Ewing said. Anywhere in the area that takes less than 30 minutes to reach is eligible for the work.

Ewing said the young people and the people they help get much more from the experience than just repairing a house.

"People have to understand that they would be doing the kids as big a favor as much as the kids would be doing for them," she said.

"Just having kids around is good for people."

She recounted an experience some Mercer kids had in Sutton, W.Va. They went to the home of two parents and three children, Ewing said. They were living in a mobile home that had holes in the floor large enough to let in an animal the size of a large cat or medium size dog and everything in between. The windows didn't work either.

The team secured the floor and repaired the windows. By the end of the week, the team of five young people and two adults, on a mission to witness for Jesus Christ, had built a personal relationship with the family.

Local groups are responsible for raising half the costs of materials, which might include paint, lumber, drywall and roofing materials. The remainder is paid for by Group Workcamps. The kids bring reusable equipment such as paint brushes and rollers.

The youths coming to Mercer County will stay at Mercer County High School. They bring their own mattresses and sleeping bags. The money they raise goes toward transportation and food. They will be fed at the school and use bathroom facilities there.

"They'll stay, sleep, eat, shower and have night time worship services there. It's very organized, very planned," said Ewing.

The repairs are free to the people who need the work done. "We want to help people who have a great need," Ewing said.

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