Teen Serve made a huge impact to this area last week.
The 348 workcampers took on house projects by the dozens and in five work days transformed lives.
Marian Smith of Waupaca has a renewed sense of freedom that she had lost when symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis confined her to a wheelchair nearly four years ago, making it extremely difficult for her to get out of her home. She and countless others were embraced last week by the efforts of Teen Serve, a Christian non-profit youth organization that raises money for materials and brings teens to the rescue throughout the Midwest.
A six person work crew built a 22-foot long wheelchair ramp for Smith last week, making it possible for her to leisurely go outside again. “I haven’t been able to be in my garden, which I love. My son would plant it for me, and explain to me how the plants were growing each year. Now I can see for myself.”
Crossing a 25-mile stretch to Greenville, a single mom with five children enjoyed the attention of another Teen Serve crew who came to give her home a fresh coat of paint. The teens taught the game of football to her children too.
Pastor Van Davis from Illinois was a crew leader for the week, and three children of his own serving at the camp. It was his first time on the road with Teen Serve, and their third. “Once we got here I see that it’s all about being a light for the Lord.” Davis’s crew worked in Bear Creek at the home of Tina Kirvan. The crew painted the exterior of her garage, repaired a hallway going up to the second level, painted an upstairs ceiling and installed drywall in a bedroom.
“It’s not just about getting the job done, “said Davis. “It’s about relationships and showing the love of Christ.”
Near Shiocton, Sandy Williams was told about the Teen Serve program by her UPS man. “I’ve never asked for help with anything before, so this was a stretch for me,” said Williams. “I’m really happy they have come.” Williams home is the site of the old White Lily Cheese Factory. The teens and crew leaders painted the garage and built a stairway off the back door of the block home so that Williams can access the house easier with her bad legs. Crew members were happy to meet Williams llama, Kramer, and Shadow, the white Siberian Husky that kept a steady watch over them.
In the rural Clintonville area, more teens from Naperville, Illinois worked on the home of Charles Krueger, who needed front and back porches replaced. In one week’s time this crew worked steadily and were also able to paint garage doors and help to stain some of the home’s exterior. Krueger’s daughter, Monica Tamayo, said her father is on dialysis and it made upkeep of the home extremely difficult. “This has meant a lot to our entire family,” said Tamayo.
Bill and Diana Bessette of Clintonville are disabled, although you might not realize it. They have both developed problems with their cerebellum, an area of the brain that helps control motor function. They expressed how much it meant for the teens to take care of the home that means so much to them. They attended a Friday evening wrap up program at the New London Middle School to see what the teens did every night.
Bill said they heard an awesome speaker, sang and prayed with the crew. “I was so thankful for all they did for us. The back of the house still needs doing, and we know they will send another crew to finish up.”
Melvin and Ann Bonikowske’s home in Manawa got attention last week too. She and Melvin have both battled cancer and Melvin is losing his eyesight. He said this was truly an answer to prayer. The teens painted the exterior of both house and garage, refaced a window sill that was rotted out and cleaned up the area well too.
The work order in Weyauwega included pulling weeds around a garden, which Melissa Glynn from New London helped with. The crew finished at the site on Thursday and moved to another site for the remainder of the week.
Sherri Mittelstadt of Weyauwega has a new coat of paint on her trailer home, after the crew removed awning boards and patched the leaky roof. Jessie Ward of Beyond Belief Youth Group in New London said they washed the trailer with TSP prior to painting. Crew leader Keith from Big Bend was impressed by the dedication the teens gave to the job.
On Wednesday afternoon the entire volunteer force got a half day vacation from work to explore the area. Some went tubing at Flease’s on the Wolf River, others swam at South Beach in Waupaca and Jellystone in Fremont. Houdini Museum in Appleton welcomed one group, while movie theatres were occupied by others. Some drove to Oshkosh to see the sights.
They come in as church groups from as far as South Dakota, most of them knowing each other. They leave with at least five brand new friends. Once they get to camp they are assigned to different work teams to allow them to meet new people. “I love the dynamics of the Teen Serve program,” says one crew leader. “It puts everyone on the same level and from the first day to the last you see friendships blossom everywhere you look.”
Dozens of New London homes received much needed attention. Teens shared that many people walked by and shared encouraging words with them.
The teens see their youth group friends they traveled here with in the evening. After dinner, a motivational speaker, prayer, devotions and live music in the gymnasium end the evening.
It’s not over ’til it’s over
On behalf of the worksite committee, Paul Franzmeier said there is still work left to finish. In the beginning of the process, site writers visited 125 homes and to discover what was needed for all of these homes. Out of those visits, the teens, teen leaders, and trouble shooters had 63 projects to work on last week. They started and completed 47 projects. Sixteen projects that were started have yet to be finished.
“We had to deny 80 projects prior and during the week of the work camp, so you can see there is a huge need out there,” said Franzmeier. “Praise God for all the work that was done and for the weather that gave the teen crews the best chance to do all the work.”
“We are now asking for volunteers to finish up the sites we started before doing anything else,” said Franzmeier. “We have the materials already at the homes to complete the jobs. Some projects will take a couple hours to complete, others may take a few days.” Anyone who can lend some time to improve the community is welcome to contact Paul at 920-982-7613.
A prayer meeting is scheduled July 20 at Mosquito Hill that will focus on asking the Lord for guidance on the follow up to Teen Serve. A co-sponsors meeting will take place Monday, Aug. 2 to look at what to do with leftover funds, and how to continue on a local level to do projects.