BEVERLY - Teens and adults from the Burke Community Church in Virginia are rolling up their sleeves and spending part of their summer vacation partnering with area churches in Beverly and Parsons, providing needed work in the area.
More than 150 members of the church have traveled to West Virginia to provide their services in construction projects, visits to folks in nursing homes and organizing vacation Bible school programs. Teens and young adults arrived in the area Sunday, and they grabbed hammers, saws and paint brushes Monday and headed out to help local residents.
Matt Watson, student pastor at Burke Community Church, said the group will stay at Camp Kidd in Parsons and Camp Pioneer in Beverly while completing their work.
The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart
Burke Community Church in Virginia has been returning to Parsons for the past 20 years and to Beverly for the past three to help local residents make needed repairs to their homes. Volunteer David Moore measures and cuts shingles for a roof Wednesday.
About 150 teens and adults from Burke Community Church in Virginia are helping fix homes for folks in the Beverly and Parsons area. Lilly Gates helps nail siding to one of the homes the group is helping repair.
Dylan Michaud climbs a ladder Wednesday to help fix a porch roof in need of repair. Michaud is one of 150 Burke Community Church members volunteering in the area.
Jena Hayes and Lilly Gates cut siding to use in repairing a home. The girls are in the area from Virginia helping local homeowners in Parsons and Beverly with repairs.
The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart
Kaya Cassell, volunteer with Burke Community Church in Virginia, paints a porch in the area. The group from Virginia helps local homeowners with repairs in their week’s visit to Beverly and Parsons.
"Our group is a partnership with area churches, and we share workers and resources," Watson said. "In Beverly, we partner with the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Beverly." The group also partners with the First Baptist Church in Parsons.
Watson said the groups do construction in the mornings, and run vacation Bible schools and visit nursing home residents in the afternoon.
"At night we have worship and work in small groups," he said.
Burke Community Church members have been traveling to Parsons to help residents for 19 years. The number of volunteers coming to West Virginia continued to grow, so three years ago they began to take on projects in Beverly as well. This year, about 75 church members are volunteering in Parsons and 75 in Beverly, each working on about 17 projects.
"This is not just a youth trip, but 60 to 75 percent of those coming here to work are teens and college students," he said. "We also have church elders, adults and parents.
"Students come here because they want to serve others," Watson said.
"The students realize that life is about helping others and sharing the word of Christ. We do two nursing home visits per day to share the Gospel, visit and pray with folks. This is an exhausting week, but everyone who participates says they like it. The teens say this is their favorite trip each year."
Some of the services the group provides include replacing damaged roofs, power-washing mildew and painting. Students have training on safety before coming to West Virginia, and they also learn about basic carpentry and practical skills. They develop skills including cutting and installing shingles, painting and using a drill and circular saws.
Burke Community Church is located in northern Virginia and has approximately 2,000 members. Most of the congregation works for the government and many are in the military, officials said.
Volunteer Allen Miller said the people in Beverly are wonderful.
"We bring the kids back each year and we develop friendships with the people here," Miller said. "Those people we have helped in the past come back to see us and visit with us each year.
"There is a young man who helped on the team in Parsons. We have kept in touch and now he is a state trooper. I have watched him grow and remain a part of his life. The women make friends and they keep in touch by email, letters and phone calls. We are making connections that will last a lifetime."
Miller said he enjoys coming to Beverly and working because he "comes back mentally exhausted but spiritually charged."
He said the annual trip is about stretching yourself.
"When you leave here, you know you have accomplished something through God," Miller said.
Julia Glaccum will be a high school senior this fall. She said this is her second year volunteering in West Virginia.
"This is awesome," Glaccum said. "I enjoy the things we are able to do, especially in the nursing homes. I spoke with a homeowner where we helped do some repairs. It was great to hear her life story. I also enjoy leading the children to Christ during the vacation Bible school."
Glaccum said she hopes to come back and help others in the future.
"I am able to help out around the house now that I have some construction training," Glaccum said. "It gives me a greater sense of responsibility, and I enjoy helping fix other's homes."
Elkins Middle School 8th grade student Mykaila Shreve said she has been helping in Beverly with the Burke Community Church group for three years.
"I was excited when Matt asked me to help," Shreve said. "This is the first year I have been able to help with construction. I enjoyed learning more about building trades, and I like helping with vacation Bible school."
Doris Paul, who is the assistant to the Burke Community Church Youth Ministry, said in Parsons the groups are building wheelchair ramps, putting on porch roofs and replacing windows.
"The pastors at the West Virginia churches help select the projects because they have a better idea who in the area needs assistance," Paul said. "Some of our team comes to West Virginia in June to inspect the projects and get the needed materials. We purchase most of our materials locally to help the businesses."
Paul said other team members work to set up the schedules for the group to visit local nursing home facilities.
"Our leader in Parsons set up for us to visit those in Courtland Acres, and on Thursday, we helped with the July birthdays, bringing cake and presents," Paul said. "Other group members arrange for our meals."
Paul said the visits to nursing facilities also includes Grandville Manor.
"Those visiting the residents help with games and puzzles, or just spend time talking to those in the facilities," Paul said. "They also enjoy when our team sings and shares stories. We hope to brighten their days just a little bit."
Paul said she anticipates the program will continue well into the future.
"We thought we may run out of things to do, but people encounter different circumstances and many are in need of help," she said. "We had tossed around the idea of adding a third team because when we open the sign-ups for the West Virginia trip, they are filled very quickly. If we bring too many students they cannot be effective, so it's a limited amount who can come."
Paul said the groups enjoy coming to West Virginia to help.
"We feel a part of the community and appreciate the wonderful hospitality," she said. "This is an experience that helps folks value their community and those who help."