2008-07-10 / News

Narragansett Bay work camp helps Jamestown elderly

By Sam Bari

A Narragansett Bay Workcamp team painted Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Guy's house on Columbia Avenue. From left are Elise Benedict, 16, of Newtown, Conn., Olivia Flynn, 13, of Flanders, N. J., Supervisor Jackie Hunter of Southbury, Conn., Zack Williams, 17, of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Michael Bennington, 15, of Newton, Mass. Photo by Sam Bari A Narragansett Bay Workcamp team painted Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Guy's house on Columbia Avenue. From left are Elise Benedict, 16, of Newtown, Conn., Olivia Flynn, 13, of Flanders, N. J., Supervisor Jackie Hunter of Southbury, Conn., Zack Williams, 17, of Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Michael Bennington, 15, of Newton, Mass. Photo by Sam Bari Four hundred young, able-bodied Narragansett Bay Workcamp campers from across the country arrived in Rhode Island last week. They provided home repairs absolutely free of charge for elderly, disabled and low-income area residents who are unable physically or financially to do necessary maintenance on their homes.

Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Guy of 45 Columbia Ave. in Jamestown were one of the recipients of the work camp services. The Guys heard about the program through a notice posted at the senior center. Their house had long needed a new coat of paint, so they submitted an application.

On Monday morning, June 30, a team of four teenage workers with an adult supervisor arrived at their home with scrapers, buckets of paint, brushes, rollers and rags. They introduced themselves and started working in earnest. By Friday afternoon, a fresh coat of paint had been applied to their entire house.

"We couldn't have possibly done the work ourselves," Mrs. Guy said. "The young people worked so hard. They were a joy to have around both spiritually and physically. We are so grateful for all they have done."

The faith-based work camp was hosted by St. Bernard's Church in Wickford with support from other local churches in nearby towns. St. Mark Church in Jamestown was just one of the participating churches, said Youth Ministry Coordinator Dawn Masterson, organizer of the program. The services offered by the work camp were open to all regardless of religious affiliation.

Group Workcamps, the parent organization, 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, savings from parttime jobs, and donations from supporters of the program.

The Group Workcamps Foundation, a nonprofit organization, is responsible for the enormously successful effort. Since 1977, nearly a quarter of a million participants have provided more than six million hours of volunteer service directly to people in need.

St. Bernard's Youth Ministry has had 51 different campers participate in the Workcamps program over the past six years. As this year's host, St. Bernard's recruited volunteers, raised funds, and identified the needy individuals whose homes needed assistance. The fund raising committee established a budget of $30,000 as their goal to fulfill the needs of the Rhode Island projects.

According to public relations representative Julie Palazini, the $30,000 goal was surpassed and all projects were completed beyond expectations.

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