By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — Citizens of all ages came together this week to offer help to area residents.
A total of 54 youth and adults spent the past three days painting houses for individuals unable to due to health or financial reasons.
The first Unite Work Camp started this week on Wednesday, with volunteers breaking up into six groups to paint two houses in Morrison, Illinois, one house in Fulton, Illinois, and three homes in Clinton. None of the campers received payment for their work; instead students paid $50 each and adults paid $25 each to participate.
This included meals and lodging at Unity Christian School.
“We sleep together, eat together, work together,” First United Methodist Church member Julie Skornia said.
She and her husband, John, organize the Hearts and Hands program, and heard about this work camp through a flyer distributed to their pastor.
The four-day camp included worship and musical performances in the evening. The program culminates with a block party tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Bridge Youth Building, 1026 Third Ave., Fulton. The party will include inflatables, face painting, a band, a speaker, cotton candy and more.
The Unite Work Camp was started this year with the idea of offering a local “missions trip,” benefiting volunteers’ own community, rather than going out of state or out of the country. Breanna Eissens and Jacob Outzen, with Bridge Youth Ministry in Fulton, spent the past three days with the Skornias and other workers on the group 6 crew at Vicki Schjelderup’s residence at 2353 N 11th St. Eissens has been involved in mission trips, but never in her own community before.
“Why do thousands of mile to help people when you can help locally?” Eissens asked.
The group on Thursday was just starting on a second coat of paint on the house. Julie reported they had used more than 15 gallons of paint before they started on the second coat.
One of the camp organizers, Steve Vanwhye, youth pastor from Second Reformed Church in Fulton, was excited by the support this camp received in its first year. Members of First United Methodist Church, Second Reformed Church, Gateway Fellowship Church and Open Bible Church joined together to make this project happen, something Vanwhye said had been the goal the entire time.
“We wanted to unite the church and mobilize it out in the community,” Vanwhye said.
Homeowner Schjelderup had been excited to have youth at her house this week. Due to health issues, she has been unable to keep up on painting her house and was recently visited by Hearts and Hands to get roof repairs.
“I truly am appreciative of what they’re doing for me,” Schjelderup said.
Most days, she has joined the crew at lunch time and interacted with them. She has really liked bonding with the youth, who she said has been putting in a lot of work.
“I enjoy meting and visiting with them,” Schjelderup said. “They’re a great group of kids.”
Samantha Pidde can be contacted at email@example.com.