By RICK HAYES email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Nearly 200 teens and adults will be in Mt. Vernon the week of July 7 through 13 to improve homes of local residents.
Elderly, handicapped and lower-income residents of the city who applied and made it through the screening process will receive free home repairs through the Group Cares program sponsored locally by First Presbyterian Church.
Group Cares is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian volunteer home-repair organization headquartered in Loveland, Colo. At each Workcamp, teenagers and adults volunteer a week of their time to repair homes throughout communities.
“This is basically a community project,” said Bernie Dickneite, site chairman. “First Presbyterian is the sponsoring organization, but we have several organizations and businesses, as well as a number of volunteers who help.”
Group Cares was in Mt. Vernon in 2008 and 2010 and repaired homes in Centralia in 2012.
“They pay to come to this, roughly about $400 per person,” Dickneite said. “That’s what makes this so cool. Not only do they volunteer but they pay to participate.”
Workcamp registration fees are used to cover the costs for food, insurance and part of the building materials.
“The church raises the money for the materials so we don’t have to use that to feed the kids. The different groups of kids pay for their own food,” Dickneite explained. The volunteers will come from about seven different states, he added.
Participants will be housed at Casey Middle School and Dr. Andy Hall School with campers
sleeping on the classroom floors, eating in the cafeteria and enjoying evening programs and chapels through the cooperation of District 80 Schools.
“They will have morning and evening services and work from about 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day,” Dickneite said. “We’re also going to have a picnic for them from noon until about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.”
Repairs offered through the Workcamp to about 35 homes in Mt. Vernon will include interior and exterior painting, weatherization, porch, deck and wheelchair ramp construction.
“In the three years I’ve been involved in the program I’ve never seen a group of kids willing to do things and learn, and they have fun at it,” Dickneite said. “They develop good relationships with the homeowners. It reinforces our faith in the younger generation.”
Volunteers will provide cold drinks and snacks to campers each day. Tours to some of the work sites are being offered to the public from 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
A sponsor appreciation dinner hosted by First Presbyterian Church will be held at 6 p.m. July 5 to thank supporters of the Workcamp in Mt. Vernon.