Youth make a habit of helping others

First Posted: 6/26/2009

DOBSON After more than 100 teens finished building three homes in nine days for three families in Dobson Thursday, they put the finishing touches on their work with a heartfelt, tearful worship service with the families, who now along with three new homes, have three new futures.
The 114 teens were part of a group called WoodsWork that included 40 adults. The group traveled from Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, Md., on a youth mission trip to help build three homes in a little more than a week for the Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity on Ridge Road in Dobson. The group arrived on June 18, built June 19 until June 25 from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. and left yesterday.
The youth committee, made up of teens ages 14 to 18, has been helping Habitat for Humanities build affordable housing for families throughout the east coast for 25 years.
The group headed back to its hometown yesterday, but had fellowship with the families whose homes they built before they returned to Maryland.
Shortly after the final nail had been struck, the group of 154 people, including the three families, made its way to a large tent bearing a wooden cross and huddled together on the ground and on stacks of hay. There, they listened to several older teens share the journey about participating in WoodsWork, prayed and sang together, listened to the family express gratitude for the new homes and shared communion with each other to conclude the service.
Ive made great friendships, I discovered more of who I am and I appreciate the life God has blessed me with. Seeing the families at the site, showing appreciation to the youth, is what brings me back to WoodsWoork each summer, Erin Regan, one of the teen builders, told the audience gathered under the tent.
Mary Talbert, who is a single mother of two biological children and one foster child, said she cant help but appreciate the youth who helped her family build a new home. She is moving into a three bedroom, one bath house.
Im so excited and blessed, this is not good news, this is God news, the 29-year-old said. This group is such a nice group. I never thought I would own anything, but for my family to be a part of their building their own home is amazing. I dont plan to ever sell my home, I want to pass it down in the family. How many people can pass down a home that their family built?
In front of the audience, Talbert told them she believed God had largely blessed her because of the opportunity.
Last month, I didnt have money to pay my rent and now this month, we have a house, she said tearfully. This is truly a blessing.
George and Maria Rivera, who are receiving a four-bedroom home to house their family of six, shared the same sentiment.
Thank you for making my beautiful house, said Maria Rivera, a mother of four, as she wiped away tears.
Emilee Lee, a single mother of two boys, seemed overwhelmed by emotion and could only muster up Thank you so much, as she hugged each of her young boys at her side.
Its amazing, its truly a blessing, Lee said after the fellowship as she watched her children playfully run in and out their new home. She said she once owned a home with her husband before they divorced, but she has been staying with family. She said she was looking for a fresh start.
Were independent now, she said staring at her new home, smiling.
The excitement of a family receiving a new home and the look of satisfaction on their faces is what keeps many of the teens coming back each year, especially for Becky Selle, 17, and Rachel Nalepa, 16.
Seeing how weve impacted the families and how close we become with them is amazing, Nalepa said, as she stood inside the Talberts home. The teens were divided into three groups to work on each home, and she had worked on Talberts house. She had finished helping install the walls in the living room earlier and watched as Talberts children ran through the house guessing which room would be theirs.
Where we are from we dont see as many people who need the help and this allows us to see how many people we can touch, Selle said. Its great to see their faces when we finish.
Nalepa said along with helping deserving families, the teens developed friendships with each other.
There are a lot of people here I would not have known otherwise, she said.
Joe Kerrigan, 17, who is the co-chair of the youth group, said he was proud of the groups efforts throughout the trip and felt its goals were accomplished.
I feel great, we had great weather all week, he said. We got where wanted to be. Were ready for these people to move into their homes as soon as possible. Everybody wanted to be here and helped to get the work done.
As far as challenges, there were very few, he said.
We didnt have any major challenges, we did put up the wrong siding and had to strip and put it up again, he said laughing.
During the service, WoodsWork presented the local Habitat for Humanity, a check for $10,000.
Gods proud of some teenagers today, Tim VanHoy, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said after he was handed the money.
I think its really amazing what theyve done. They had three homes up in four to five days. Its amazing to see how they come together for this, and they were not coached to come, they came because they wanted to do, he said. This is a major long-range impact on us when 100 to 115 teens come together. I hope young people will feel challenged by what these kids have done.
On receiving the $10,000 check, he said it was also a blessing.
First of all, when someone prepares year long to come here, and then drives seven hours to get here and uses their own money and doesnt ask you for anything and then to contribute financially is a gift of God.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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