The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 2, 2014

Project seeks homeowners in need

BY MARY WICOFF mwicoff@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — In the middle of winter, most people aren’t thinking about outdoor projects. However, now is the time to sign up for minor home repairs if you’re elderly, handicapped or low income.

“We’re trying to get the word out,” said Jim Anderson, a member of First Presbyterian Church who is heading the project. “People don’t think about home repairs during a snowstorm.”

More than 280 teenagers and adults will come to Danville to improve the homes of local residents this summer. The free repairs will be offered to elderly, handicapped and lower-income Danville-area residents who own their homes.

First Presbyterian is working with the national organization, Group Cares, in bringing the work camp to town from July 7-11. The purpose is to bring a Christian witness to Danville by improving the homes of local residents who are not able to make repairs or pay for them on their own.

Residents who would like to have free home repair assistance may pick up an application at First Presbyterian Church, Faith in Action, Love INC, CRIS Healthy Aging, Laura Lee, and the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency.

Applications also will be available at about 25 local churches, so ask your pastor for an application form. Volunteers at First Presbyterian Church will be available to help local residents complete the application forms and can be reached at 442-0541.

Deadline to turn in the application is Feb. 8. However, if the workers need more projects, applications could be accepted later.

The number of homes selected for repairs is determined by the number of work camp participants.

Anderson said about 280 people have signed up for the camp so far, and that number could hit 300. As a result, he wants to make sure there are enough projects to keep the workers busy.

“We’re doing our best to get the word out to people about this wonderful opportunity,” he said.

Even neighbors or relatives who know of someone in need are asked to spread the word.

At this point, about 50 families in Danville and communities adjacent to the city will benefit from the work of the adult and teenage volunteers at the Danville work camp. Only simple repairs will be untaken, such as interior and exterior painting, weatherization, porch and wheelchair ramp construction, and other work.

The workers’ skills will be matched with the projects.

The City of Danville is joining this effort as a sponsoring agency. The city has agreed to use some of its federal block grant money in this program. Also, the city will help in the selection of homes to be repaired.

Anderson said almost all of the youth and adults will come in from other cities, so this is a chance to show off the community, as well.

The Rev. Jimmy Hopper, pastor of First Presbyterian, has made five trips to other work camps, and had the idea to bring the project to Danville.

Anderson described Hopper as “the passion behind the project.” When Hopper and other First Presbyterian youth and adults returned from a work camp in Mount Vernon last summer, Hopper said it was time to bring the project to Danville.

The work camp participants will be housed at Danville High School with campers sleeping on floors in the field house, eating in the cafeteria and enjoying morning and evening programs in the gym. The housing expenses are being paid by Group Cares, Inc.

Funding for the project is not only being provided by First Presbyterian Church, Group Cares and the City of Danville, but by the youth participants, as well. Each youth pays a registration fee. These fees and co-sponsor funding are used to cover the cost of building equipment and other needed supplies.

Group Cares, based in Loveland, Colo., is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian volunteer home-repair organization. This summer, it will sponsor 48 work camps in communities across the United States and Canada.

In the past four years, youth from First Presbyterian Church of Danville have participated in work camps in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and North Carolina.

FYI For more information, call First Presbyterian Church at 442-0541. To learn more about the Group Mission Trips or to volunteer, go to www.groupmissiontrips.com