Volunteers lend hand to local homeowners

MIFFLINTOWN – St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, in Mifflintown, is seeking homeowners in Juniata County who are interested in receiving free assistance with home repair.

The work will be completed through a co-sponsorship with Group Cares, a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian volunteer organization headquartered in Colorado. From June 22-28, more than 400 teenagers and adults will travel from across the United States to assist local homeowners in need.

The Juniata County Workcamp, as the event is called, is being organized by Kathy Whitesel. Whitesel said she participated in a group workcamp for the first time in 2000. Since then, she has traveled along with local youth and Group Cares to nine different locations. Every time she returned, she said, the group did presentations at local churches about their experiences.

“People say that was really nice … but people say there are people who need help here,” she said.

After hearing the same response many times, Whitesel said she began asking local people about bringing a workcamp to Juniata County.

“Do you have any idea how much work this will be?” she said they asked her.

Her response?

“No, let’s do it.”

As many as 80 local households will benefit from the work of participating teen and adult volunteers, she said. Repairs may include interior and exterior painting, weatherization, porch and wheelchair ramp construction or repair and other work.

“It’s a real blessing to the residents, and the residents are a blessing to the crews,” Whitesel said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The workcamp is still in need of local volunteers in the weeks leading up to and after camp. Whitesel said she also is seeking project advisors with construction experience to provide guidance for more complicated projects. Project organizers also are requesting ladders to be loaned for the duration of the workcamp.

“I think it’s important for us to help our neighbors and friends,” Whitesel said. “I love to go on mission trips far, far away, but I know there’s need right here.”

An organizational meeting is scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. April 6 at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 8489 Licking Creek Road, Mifflintown. For more information or to apply for home repair, call the church at 436-6989.

“If we can have Juniata County helping people from Juniata County, I just think it’ll be an amazing experience for everyone,” Whitesel said.