Students volunteer to fix Durham homes

June 23, 2008 5:13:56 PM PDT
Durham's neediest neighborhoods are getting a facelift this week. Sacrificing summer fun and paying jobs, approximately 300-students with the World Changers organization are renovating and cleaning houses in the Bull City all this week. Hammers, nails and paint are freshening up Rosa Covington's home. She smiles when describing the hours-old improvements to her leaky "roof, and other things that were wrong," Rosa said. "I was just one of the blessed people. Truly blessed!"

The work is being done by volunteers from World Changers--the Southern Baptist group that has 300 middle and high school student volunteers fixing about two dozen Durham homes this week.

One of the youngest workers is 14-year-old Jenna Pruett from South Carolina. Pruett worked on Ms. Covington's roof. "You're excited, you're pumped up, you're good to go tear out shingles and wallpaper. She's really nice, she has water set out for us," said Pruett.

But why do they come here from out of state to work for free? For Steve Caho, a volunteer from Maryland, the reason is simple and profound. "Jesus went to the cross for me," Caho said. "The least I can do is come out here and help somebody with the roof on their house, or painting the inside of it."

The students pay to participate in the home repair program. "I believe it was $365 to come here," said Caho, adding "It is totally worth it. I'd pay more. I'd definitely pay more, to come here!"

That's not all. After taking care of the occasional splinter, when it's time to leave work sites like Covington's the volunteer students sleep on the floor. "There's 50-something of us in a wrestling room," said Caho."But it's pretty cool because we're having a lot of fun!"

During a tour of the repair work's progress, the homeowner got emotional when she saw how much was done in a short amount of time. "We're here for you," a volunteer said as Covington leaned on his arm. Smiling and tearing up at the same time, she said, "Y'all gonna make me cry. I don't want to cry. I'm a cry baby! I am a cry baby. You know, God is good! That is something, what kids will do if they're raised right. And these kids here are very remarkable!"

Following a six-session, pre-project "how-to" study, students serving Durham will take part in a variety of home improvement and cleanup tasks-including painting, hanging sheetrock, repairing roofs, pouring cement, and planting flowers. The students are staying at Southern High School for the week.


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