2008-01-31 / News

Foundation provides free home repairs

By Sam Bari

Summer's coming, and so is the Narragansett Bay Workcamp. Fourhundred young, able-bodied campers from across the country will be in the area to provide home repairs absolutely free of charge for elderly, disabled and low-income residents who are unable physically or financially to do needed maintenance on their homes.

A team of five young people and at least one adult leader will work at each home site and provide both materials and labor free of charge to qualifying households from June 29 to July 5.

Typical projects include porch repairs or construction, step repairs, exterior or interior painting, weatherization, wheelchair ramp repair or construction, and mobile home skirting. Campers will not do electrical work or roofing.

Youth Ministry Coordinator Dawn Masterson, organizer of the program, said that St. Bernard's Church in Wickford is hosting the 2008 Narragansett Bay Workcamp with support from other local churches in nearby towns.

"If you or someone you know has a project for a Workcamp team, simply complete an application and send it to the Narragansett Bay Workcamp, PO Box 606, North Kingstown, RI 02852. Applications must be received by Feb. 15 for projects to be scheduled," Masterson said.

She also said that applications in Jamestown are available at the library, the Senior Center, and at St. Mark Church. For further information, visit the Website at www.narragansettbayworkcamp2008. wordpress. com/ or call 295-5235.

Teams will be working in Jamestown, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Exeter, Narragansett, or within a half hour drive of Davisville Middle School in North Kingstown. "If you or someone you know has a project in any of these areas, you are encouraged to call or send an application," Masterson said.

Qualifications are listed and explained on the application. Project time and complexity as well as safety issues are factors in the project selection process. Religious beliefs or affiliation are not considerations. Please be aware that a completed application is not a guarantee that work will be done. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and applicants will hear from the foundation.

The Group Workcamps Foundation is a nonprofit organization. Since 1977, nearly a quarter of a million participants have provided more than 6 million hours of volunteer service directly to people in need.

Group Workcamps® is based in Loveland, Colo where it all began. Each year, thousands of youth groups travel to communities throughout the country to help people who are in need of assistance. They pay for their own transportation through fund-raisers, saving from part-time jobs, and donations from supporters of the program.

According to the Group Workcamps Website, it all started in 1974, when founder, Thom Schultz, started GROUP Magazine- a daring, grassroots newsprint publication loaded with fresh ideas for youth leaders. GROUP Magazine was the launching pad for Group Workcamps, which was formed in 1977 because of a natural disaster that occurred the year before.

In July of 1976, more than 12 inches of rain fell in three hours near Estes Park, Col. The Big Thompson River threaded through a narrow canyon down to Loveland. First, the river overflowed, then flooded, and ultimately turned into a raging wall of water.

Hundreds of houses were destroyed, miles of roads washed away in the blink of an eye, and more than 140 people were killed as water tore through the canyon without warning. It was the worst natural disaster in Colorado history.

The following summer, in response to the disaster, the staff of GROUP Magazine asked church youth groups from across the country to come to Colorado to help rebuild the homes and lives of those who had suffered in the flood. Over 300 youths and their adult leaders responded, working on over 50 projects.

Homes were repaired, but more importantly the staff noticed a dramatic change in the hearts of those who served. The program has since provided more than 6 million volunteer hours, serving hundreds of thousands of people in need.

In 1991, the Group Workcamps Foundation was founded. Today, Group Workcamps organizes hundreds of short-term mission trips in the United States and abroad, offer- ing mission trips focused on home repair and community service.

St. Bernard's Youth Ministry has had 51 different campers participate in the Workcamps program over the past six years. As a result of their efforts, the parish decided to get involved and bring this project to the local Rhode Island community, Masterson said. The Group Workcamps Foundation is providing a portion of the funds and a team of staff to organize the camp itself.

Masterson also said that St. Bernard's role as the host is to recruit volunteers, fundraise, and identify the needy individuals whose homes could use assistance. She said that the fund raising committee has established a budget of $30,000 and they would be most appreciative of any contributions and help to spread the word throughout the community about this worthy cause.

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