TeenServe-New London executive co-sponsors held a Nov. 29, 2010, meeting with an agenda set to determine the follow up of the interdenominational home repair blitz that started this summer,
The group’s work spanned a 25-mile radius of New London, including Clintonville, Weyauwega, Fremont, Waupaca and surrounding townships.
TeenServe New London organization sponsored by 15 area Churches and 4 non-profit organizations that brought TeenServe (a national youth mission) to New London for a mission trip. The 1 week TeenServe Workcamp last June used over 300 Christian teens from around the country to repair 63 homes in the New London area for elderly disabled and others in need. The teens made “camp” at the New London Middle School for that week.
Facilitator Chris Martinson opened the meeting by reading Psalm 107, vs. 31-32; “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people, and praise Him before the elders.” Martinson remarked how appropriate it was for where the mission was at this moment.
First State Bank’s Harry Radix delivered the financial report, saying that $28,913 was raised to be used for home repairs and of that $26,809 was spent. He said National Teen Serve Sponsors Jeff and Lori LaBelle were right on target with the spreadsheet projections. That left $2,100 in the balance.
“We stayed with New London Building Supply all the way,” said Steve Gruentzel. They went over and above for our effort in June. Their crew stayed two and three hours late to fill our orders for the next day.”
“We didn’t have to drive to the Valley too,” said Jeff Bubolz. “That saved a lot of valuable time. “When it came down to it, New London Building Supply was less expensive on materials too.”
Paul Franzmeier reported on the 16 unfinished sites out of 63 that were done when the Teen Serve support crew and hundreds of teens left in June after the week-long repair session. He said all 16 site projects had now been completed.
Forty-two local volunteers stepped forward in late summer and fall to finish these projects that required renting lifts, painting in high places, and using more tools and materials than teens were used to dealing with. The cost was around $5,000 for this list of homes.
Various sized groups of volunteers went to the sites. The James Gang in Waupaca took on several projects in that area, and several Church groups, and youth groups helped out in this area. “Our people here in New London just kept doing what they had trained for in June and it all got done,” said Franzmeier.
Back up sites were also given some attention once the original 63 were complete. One woman needed a seriously leaking roof repaired and her church put out an offering to help defray the cost. Teen Serve was able to pick up the rest of the materials cost, and once again the Building Supply came through.
Another four backup sites got their yards raked, and some homes got their exteriors washed by youth groups.
There was a lengthy discussion about the future of the TeenServe New London group, and many items were considered.
“We are done with the job we set out to do,” said Paul Larson. “Anything that comes from this Teen Serve project will have a new name associated with it, and we certainly see a movement here.”
When asked by Martinson what the group thought the future may look like, Harry Radix reflected his thoughts. “There were people who didn’t sign up because they didn’t understand what Teen Serve was, and they wanted to be a part of it once they understood,” he said. “Sometimes all you have to do is ask a friend or neighbor if they’ll help, and they come running.”
Linda Ward said she was not willing to just forget these people who came into their lives. She wanted to maintain the relationships, reaching out whenever possible through Christian faith and sharing. “This is not just about the homes, it’s about the people.”
The consensus seemed to be that the momentum of a Christian outreach group could be viable and that perhaps the balance of over $2,000 should be used to further help the community. A vote was taken and it was agreed that the remaining money should be used for home repair outreach efforts.
The group will meet again on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of New London (corner of Pearl and Hancock) to follow-up on their future possibilities.
In the meantime, the ministry of Teen Serve continues during the holiday season. Christmas cards have been sent to all 63 residents whose homes were worked on during Teen Serve week this past summer.
Personal calls and visits to the residents from Teen Serve volunteers are in the works and may be the only visit some of these residents receive for Christmas.
TeenServe continues to give the residents who were helped this summer the blessings that Teen Serve volunteers received through being a host community this summer.