Local church group enjoys successful week volunteering in Kentucky

On March 13, 120 people from various churches across Ontario boarded two buses and an assortment of various other vehicles and headed for the Housing Oriented Ministry Established for Service  (HOMES) Incorporated in Neon, Kentucky.

A non-profit organization similar to Habitat for Humanity, HOMES aims to eradicate sub-standard housing for the poor in the Appalachian Mountains of southeastern Kentucky. Its service area encompasses the three poorest counties in the state and it uses volunteer labour to defray the initial building costs of newly owned houses.

About 40 of the participants were from the Reformed church in Drayton. They were in a group with others from  nine different Reformed churches from across the province. There were 36 adult leaders and 84 high school students and young adults.

The Drayton group arrived in Neon on March 14 and the following day they attended a local church and spent the afternoon hiking, relaxing and getting acquainted with others in their group.

On March 16 work started at two demolition sites; one a church that was demolished but needed to be cleaned up and the other was a house.

There were also some dressing rooms that needed to be built at the local amphitheatre, a couple of rehab jobs that needed new windows or doors, a couple of houses that needed drywall to be mudded and sanded, a food distribution centre that needed to be sorted and organized, and some apartments for abused women that needed a fresh coat of paint.

On the HOMES compound  was a house with a back wall  and roof that needed to be replaced, as well as a gym in  need of a paint job and other general maintenance.

The group worked eight to ten hours a day from Monday to Thursday and on Friday morning before cleaning up and packing for home. In total the group worked 3,827 hours on the various projects.

Participants also had time to experience some Kentucky culture. The evening of March 18 at the local church they enjoyed refreshments and social interaction with locals. The next night they were entertained by a local bluegrass band, East Kentucky Time.

Members of the Drayton group say everything considered, the week was a very enjoyable one. They said lots of new friendships were developed and many enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with friends they already knew.