Youth from seven states spent a week in Sylacauga helping make homes safer, drier and warmer as part of Reach Workcamps.
“Reach Workcamps is a week-long mission of service to low-income communities which has ministered since 1992,” said Heather Moulton, workcamp director.
Chuck Terrell, youth pastor at Sylacauga First United Methodist Church, said he became involved in Reach in 2008.
“We began laying the groundwork to get them here in 2009,” he said. “It all came together last year and was very successful. They are back again this year. We want to partner with Reach as a community — a place where they can come and allow teenagers to come and serve.”
Terrell said there have been three workcamps at Sylacauga, two last year and one this year.
“At the end of this camp, we will have 65 houses,” he said.
Moulton said Reach Workcamps is based in Galeton, Colo.
“We work with local agencies and/or local churches to make an impact on residents, communities, students and adult sponsors who attend,” she said. “It is a life-changing experience as campers participate in activities that build community and self-esteem, encourage spiritual growth and enable them to understand their role in combating poverty.”
Moulton said the projects include basic weatherization, painting, repair and construction of porches, steps and wheelchair ramps, as well as many other unique projects that may be assigned. All repairs are made at no cost to the homeowners. Experienced maintenance and home repair volunteers make daily on-site visits to ensure quality workmanship and to assist workcampers with the skills necessary to complete their projects. Construction skills are not a requirement to attend a workcamp.
“This summer there are eight Reach Workcamps in six states including Alabama, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Ohio and Tennessee,” she said. “We will serve with about 2,600 workcampers and 155 churches this summer.”
Moulton said there were 161 workcampers with nine church groups at the Sylacauga workcamp. This included 12 worksites and 18 work crews. This workcamp worked on projects at four homes in Childersburg, two in Sycamore and six in Sylacauga.
“We have people from Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama at this workcamp,” she said. “We are staying at Nichols-Lawson Middle School and sleeping in the classrooms. A local businessman donated use of a shower trailer he built for this camp. Food is provided from the school cafeteria.”
Moulton said workcampers do projects during the day, then have worship and drama at night.
“The theme this year is ‘Street Level,’ living your faith in day-to-day life,” she said. “The staff puts on skits and we also show videos.”
Shelby Harris, 16, of Sylacauga, said Terrell introduced her to Reach Workcamps, and she has attended seven camps during the past five years.
“He convinced me to go and I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said. “I haven’t missed a year since I started.”
Harris said she enjoys meeting people from other states.
“I like that I get to meet new people and keep in touch with them,” she said. “And each camp I get closer to Christ.”
Harris said she would definitely recommend workcamp to other people.
“I’m a volunteer here this week, and am going to a camp in Tennessee next week,” she said.
Terrell said his youth group has been involved in 16 workcamps in other cities.
“This represents about 500 houses we have helped repair,” he said. “And in the last two years, 700 students from outside the area have come here.”
Moulton said local support has been phenomenal.
“The school, church and community support has been instrumental in us being able to come back here year after year,” she said.
For more information on Reach Workcamps visit www.reachwc.org or call 888-REACH-WC.