Special report to the Mirror by Jane McKinley
A big “thank you” to visiting church youth groups, who are helping seven Northampton County residents this summer with home repair projects. Phillip and Val Evans, who have lived in their home at 520 Washington Ave in Cape Charles since 1975, are one of the lucky recipients of this assistance. If you traveled down Washington Ave this past week, you may have noticed the house swarming with industrious teens who were involved in the replacement of the roof and windows and exterior painting, including power washing, calking and other prep work.
Working through Impact Virginia, sponsored by the Baptist General Association of Virginia, youth volunteers participate in a one-week mission opportunity that focuses on home repair and spiritual growth for teens. The host site for the youth this summer is Northampton High School where they sleep and eat during their “off hours.” The volunteers cover their own expenses through personal savings, fundraising and, possibly, monetary support from their home church.
Impact Virginia selects homes in need of repair which is owned by individuals on fixed incomes or who are disabled. In addition to roof, siding, and windows, the projects can include repair of wheelchair ramps and handrails, porch construction, flooring, plumbing, and landscaping. Eligible homes are identified through contacts with local churches and engagement with local citizens.
Kayla Emerson, a 6-year veteran volunteer from Chesterfield County, was inspired during her first-year when her team repaired access to the home of a wheelchair-bound woman. She recalls that “to see that joy, it kinda moves you!” Ashley Peeling from Rappahannock County is embarking on her first year of volunteering through Impact Virginia. In addition to her love of the beach, Ashley loves the fact that “we are helping these people without expecting them to give anything back.”
Cape Charles should also be proud that we have one of our own youth participating in this project. Although not sponsored by a church, Kaelyn Wennergren was able to join the team and has thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship experience. In addition to working with the team on roofing and painting, she worked singularly with “David to repair a storm door.” Kaelyn is a rising Sophomore at Northampton High School and is looking forward to getting her drivers license this year.
Home repairs are not easy and can be especially costly for individuals on a fixed income. When volunteer groups can help to expedite a project that would otherwise cost hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars, the result can make a big difference for the homeowners and the community as a whole.