Home will be where the heart of God is this summer for a local church and its project partners.
As part of an effort called Group Workcamp, about 150 Christian teens from all over the nation, guided by adult mentors, will work through St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center and with the support of local agencies Volunteer Action Center and Mission Columbus to provide free home repairs in one weekend for about 40 older, disabled and disadvantaged people needing help in Bartholomew County.
Workcamps encourage participants to grow closer to Jesus by sharing his love with the less fortunate in practical, demonstrable ways, according to Group Mission Trips, based in Loveland, Colorado.
Organizers are announcing plans now in order to have homeowners submit their needs for work. They acknowledge loosely interpreting the parameters of older, disabled or disadvantaged if someone truly needs assistance.
Story continues below gallery
Volunteers recently have been completing assessments for needs already submitted to St. Peter’s and Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, a partner in the work. Planners cannot promise that every need can be tackled, depending upon time or expense, but they say they will do their best to help with the resources they have.
“It’s a real challenge for those already on a fixed income or budget to find a realistic way to have some of this work done,” said Diane Doup, community outreach coordinator for Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, which helps some of Columbus’ most economically disadvantaged residents.
“When they are faced with prioritizing bills — Do we have enough for heat? — When do I get shoes for my children? — then it’s a real challenge to have something done for your home when you clearly feel there are other items more pressing. So having groups of volunteers come in for something like this at no cost is just invaluable,” she added.
Most of the work will be done June 29 through July 2, according to leaders at St. Peter’s Lutheran, although some preparation work for some tasks could need to be done earlier.
Average total cost for a workcamp of this size, which might include projects ranging from painting to carpentry to drywall, is about $12,000, according to information Group Mission Trips provided to St. Peter’s Lutheran. The church is covering that expense, according to organizers.
The Rev. Chad Foster, director of life/community at St. Peter’s Lutheran, mentioned that his previous church in Murray, Kentucky, regularly built ramps for aging and needy residents.
“That was immensely popular,” Foster said. “I’m surprised that we don’t get more requests for things like that here.”
Locally, some other agencies occasionally have handled such work the past several years.
Mike Hinckfoot, St. Peter’s Lutheran’s executive director, said that a key component of the effort is teaching young people to be giving of their time and ability.
“I think this clearly gives young people a great opportunity to give back (to others),” Hinckfoot said. “Many of them are blessed. So they can in turn then be a blessing. Second, this helps young people to connect with the residents of Bartholomew County and build relationships. And this then goes both ways. It’s a blessing for the teens to get to know the residents, and it’s a blessing for the residents to get to know the teens.”
Denise Gressel, project specialist for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, mentioned that teamwork is significant for another reason to help county homeowners.
“If some of these requests are beyond the scope or the time frame of what we can do in a weekend, then others (locally) might be able to help,” Gressel said.
After the work is done and appropriate outreach has been hammered home, how will the first-time project be evaluated for success?
“The success,” Hinckfoot said, “would be in seeing teenagers build relationships. We’re trying to create an opportunity here for people to love one another.”
Any Bartholomew County homeowner who is older, disabled or disadvantaged — one without proper resources to turn to — and needs refurbishing or repair on their residence, an upcoming Group Workcamp would like to help.
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is working alongside Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center and with the support of the Volunteer Action Center and Mission Columbus to do such work on about 40 area homes from June 29 to July 2. For now, though, organizers need to know the scope of the local need to plan appropriately for volunteers, expenses and the like.
To submit a request for a project: St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at 812-372-1571 or Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center at 812-379-1630.