DANVILLE — Nick dePlace is known for his steady demeanor, not prone to emotional highs and lows.
However, when he returned from a mission trip to Mount Vernon recently, he said, “It took me a day and a half to come off the high. It was really a delightful experience.”
Four adults and 10 youth with First Presbyterian Church spent a week in early July doing home repairs for the elderly, handicapped and low-income residents in Mount Vernon. The trip was arranged through Group Mission Trips, a non-profit Christian-based organization that sets up summer work camps across the country for teens to help those in need.
Others on the trip shared dePlace’s positive feelings about the experience.
“You get a feeling of helping,” Nancy Grimes said. “You’re fulfilling a mission — your mission is to help people.”
Melissa Whitehair, whose daughter Justine, 18, participated, said the young people got a lot out of the experience. “They learned different skills and communication and doing something good for somebody,” she said.
The Rev. Jimmy Hopper, pastor at First Presbyterian, also participated, making this his fifth summer trip in a row (twice to Mount Vernon). He’s also been to Red Lake, Minn., Lexington, N.C., and Tecumseh, Mich.
Besides those four adults, the youth participants were: Kayla Black, Amelia Ervin, Erin Ervin, Mary Hoss, Beau Kingore, Larken Parr, Tavion Thomas, Breanna Schultz, Caitlin Whitehair and Justine Whitehair. They ranged in age from 12 to 21. They did fundraisers and chipped in their own money to go.
The young people put in 5,750 work hours.
The group left July 7, and returned a week later. In Mount Vernon, they joined youth from seven or eight other states, Hopper said. There were about 200 adults, youths and Group Mission Trips staff who worked on 28 homes.
The teens were separated into 30 crews to repair the homes. Their duties included painting the interior and exteriors, repairing porches and rails, decks and wheel chair ramps — all at no cost to the residents.