By Kevin Bohli
With Diocesan WorkCamp just one month away, the Office of Youth Ministry is in the midst of the final details for the event. One of the more difficult tasks is finding the homes that the young people will be repairing during WorkCamp. While one does not need to look far to find homes in need of repair throughout Virginia, the challenge is finding people who are willing to invite five teenagers to help them in their current situation.
The process of finding the homeowners whom we will be assisting this summer began nine months ago, back in September 2009. This process started by establishing relationships with social service agencies in the communities where we will be serving.
WorkCamp staff members then meet with the agencies and explain that we are looking to make homes “warmer, safer, and drier.” While cosmetic repairs are appreciated by the homeowner, our goal is to make more substantial repairs to their homes, and thus have a greater impact on their lives. WorkCamp does not have a “means test” for any of its homeowners, meaning that they do not need to pass a minimum income level or meet any other requirement for us to serve them. If a homeowner is willing to open his or her door to our teenagers and request our assistance, then we feel blessed to have the opportunity to help.
The “ideal” WorkCamp projects include building wheelchair ramps, replacing leaky roofs, inefficient windows and broken gutters and repairing flooring that has been damaged by water. Additionally, WorkCamp volunteers will install wheelchair-accessible showers, repair and replace trailer skirting, widen door frames for wheelchair access, install handicap-accessible toilets and complete painting projects.
Agencies are asked to submit “project proposal” forms to WorkCamp staff, and site visits follow after the proposals have been reviewed. Every project site is visited by WorkCamp staff with a representative from the agency to facilitate the introduction of WorkCamp. WorkCamp staff members then walk through the home to find repairs within our expertise to complete and to insure that the crew will be working in a safe environment.
Now that we have located our 140 homes to repair this coming summer, WorkCamp staff members are in the process of completing all of the necessary permits and preparing the volunteer contractors who will be overseeing and teaching the teens to make the professional-quality repairs.
While the homeowners go out of their way to thank WorkCamp for the home repairs, it is truly WorkCamp that is indebted to them. Without the humility and willingness to invite these teens into their homes and their lives, WorkCamp could not exist, and teenagers would miss an amazing opportunity to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those in need.