Helping Hands students speak to Rotary

The Inter-Mountain photo by Baylie Helmick Buckhannon-Upshur High School students, from left, Jenna Marple, Johnny O’Hara, Sidney Maxwell, Alexandra Edwards and Sean Crites speak before the Buckhannon Rotary Club Tuesday

BUCKHANNON –The Buckhannon Rotary Club welcomed students from Upshur Helping Hands Tuesday.

The Helping Hands organization was founded in 2003, with support from the Upshur County Cooperative Parish. It was created as a non-denominational ecumenical group that includes experienced youth and leaders to provide mission work of home repair in McDowell County.

The group has been involved in McDowell County for more than eight years to provide assistance and relief for the victims of the 2001 and 2002 floods.

Helping Hands Leader Tammy Crites accompanied her group of volunteer students from Buckhannon-Upshur High School during Tuesday’s presentation. The students told Rotary about the time they spent volunteering over the summer, and the memories that were created.

Student Sean Crites talked about the experience and skills he acquired during the time that he spent in McDowell County with the victims of the flood. Crites explained the progress of learning how to build a handicap ramp and the humbleness that overcame him throughout the process.

Crites stated, “(I) was amazed by the strength the community held. They didn’t let the diversity get them down.”

Student Alexandra Edwards spoke of a porch her group helped rebuild for an unfortunate family. Edwards also explained that on the way back, the group’s car had a flat tire and the community helped the group by only charging them $5 for the repair of the tire.

Edwards explained, “What really shook me was the willingness to help in the community.”

Student Sidney Maxwell described her close experience with the family that her group was helping. Maxwell said she bonded with the family and their child, gaining the child’s trust though the experiences they had.

Johnny O’Hara also spoke of his experience of volunteering as a student, and the work his group provided in replacing a family’s bathroom.

O’Hara explained that during his time there, he saw a mural with names and writings on a wall, with one catching his attention. O’Hara spoke of the writing, which provided him with an “eye-opening experience.”

“Community is like a quilt, with stitches holding it together,” he said.

Student Jenna Marple described her experience as “extremely eye-opening, considering what has happened there. The families are so grateful for each other.”