September 23, 2017
School & Youth
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  • Students from Our Lady of the Chesapeake repaired homes in Preston County, West Virginia from Sunday, June 25, to Saturday, July 1.
    Students from Our Lady of the Chesapeake repaired homes in Preston County, West Virginia from Sunday, June 25, to Saturday, July 1.
  • Students from Pasadena United Methodist Church and some members of Hall United Methodist Church repaired homes in Allegany County, Maryland, from Sunday, July 2 through Saturday, July 8.
    Students from Pasadena United Methodist Church and some members of Hall United Methodist Church repaired homes in Allegany County, Maryland, from Sunday, July 2 through Saturday, July 8.

Youth From Local Churches Participate In Appalachia Outreach Projects

Gracie Fairfax
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July 12, 2017

When school is out, students want to make the most of their free time. For groups of students from two local churches, free time was seen as a chance to help others.

Pasadena United Methodist Church

A group including high school students and adults from Pasadena United Methodist Church and Hall United Methodist Church participated in Camp Hope from Sunday, July 2, through Saturday, July 8. Camp Hope is an independent organization serving Allegany County and surrounding areas primarily through home repairs. For four weeks of the summer, different sets of four to six church groups totaling 100 to 150 people serve families in the area. Camp Hope celebrated its 40th anniversary this summer, and Pasadena United Methodist marked 10 years of participation in 2017.

Throughout the nine years he has participated, adult leader Andy Lentz has witnessed the impact the trip has had on high school students.

“They really engage with that homeowner and engage with their work,” Lentz said. “There is not only a personal satisfaction of my abilities helped somebody paint their house or install a floor or a roof or a deck or a handicapped ramp, but they really enjoy helping others, and that’s kind of what our mission on earth should be, is to help others. The Christian spirit consumes them, and sometimes we say it’s our hands doing God’s work.”

While serving in Allegany County, the groups stayed in the dorms at Frostburg State University and met other church groups. The theme for this year’s camp was “Faith Awakened,” loosely based on “Star Wars.” Each night, there was a vesper service – a modified church service put on by one of the participating churches. In addition to evening church services, the week includes some free time at Rocky Gap and a talent show.

On Friday evening, July 7, the week culminated with a communion service the homeowners are invited to. At the service, the homeowners and youth shared what the week meant to them. “It actually restores their faith a little bit that they’re not beyond hope,” Lentz said of the homeowners.

The money needed to participate in the trip was entirely fundraised by the group through activities such as car washes and $5 lunches.

“I think our church is 100 percent behind this too,” Lentz said. “They realize what this means to the youth and they want to support the youth, so they’ve been extremely generous with their contributions and support along the way.”

Our Lady of the Chesapeake

Thirteen students from Our Lady of the Chesapeake, ranging from high school age to college age, and four adults, participated in a mission trip to the Preston County area of West Virginia from Sunday, June 25, to Saturday, July 1. While serving in Preston County, the group stayed at Camp Galilee in Terra Alta with groups from churches and schools from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Each group at the camp was sent out to a different area throughout Preston County, between a 15- and 40-minute drive away, to help with home repairs for those in need of assistance. This could include repairing outdoor decks or indoor plumbing or building a wheelchair ramp. While most of the students have no background in home repair, some of the adults who participated were contractors or had experience repairing their own homes and were able to guide the students along the way.

Adult leader Rodney Armero has participated in seven of the 15 years the church has been involved in the area.

“The group that I was in was an elderly couple in their 80s and they had a deck that was pretty much rotted out,” Armero said. “We repaired their deck so they could use their deck. We also repaired their steps, that led into their house, [that were] made out of bricks that they had put together. We went ahead and made wooden steps for them. The gentleman was using a cane and it just improves his lifestyle. Instead of possibly falling down the steps, he now has real steps and handrails to go up and down.”

The woman who owned the house asked the group how she could repay them for what they had done for her and her husband and made the group a cobbler pie to thank them for their work.

Another group had the opportunity to level the kitchen floor for a widow they had helped several times over the years. “I think the kids could see that just doing the little things can improve people’s lives in a major way,” Armero said.

With 98 adults and teens from the parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, this year’s group was the largest that has participated in the Preston County outreach program.

Armero has noticed that many of those who started out participating as high school students have come back after graduating college.

“They’ve enjoyed the experience so much that they themselves want to give back even more,” Armero said.


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