The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

October 26, 2013

City to help with summer workcamp


---- — DANVILLE — Plans continue to take shape for at least 250 young people to visit the city in July and help with home repairs for low- to moderate-income homeowners.

City officials will conduct a public hearing next week to assist the youth with the Group Cares Workcamp event by providing $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds. An amendment must be made for the uncommitted funding in the city’s 2013 Annual Action Plan for CDBG funding. The funding is to be used for building materials, such as lumber and paint, and small equipment purchases.

The Group Cares Workcamp is a volunteer effort in which young people are assembled and carry out repairs and painting at no charge to low-income homeowners.

Earlier this year, the Danville District 118 School Board approved a request from First Presbyterian Church and Group Cares to use Danville High School for a week next July for the event. Danville’s First Presbyterian Church is working with Group Cares, a Colorado-based ministry founded in 1977 that does charitable work around the globe.

One of Group Cares’ ministries is a home repair mission camp — or “workcamp” — in which high school-age youths from across the country come to a community for a week and assist with repairing homes for senior citizens and low-income and disabled homeowners. As many as 400 youth and chaperones could come to the city from all over the country and repair around 50 homes. The youth will sleep and eat at the high school.

Danville Neighborhood Development Manager John Dreher compares this event, on a larger scale, to the old HALO painting blitzes.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Dreher said. “It’s been done for some years in other communities.”

Families could need help with replacing steps on their home, fixing a porch railing, painting, replacing glass in windows and other items, he said.

There will be trainers and advisers to help the youth in using the tools, Dreher said.

Dreher said CDBG funding turned out a little better than what city officials had planned. There is about $30,000 more than expected, he said. There are no set plans yet for the additional $15,000.

“They bring in this army of young people and they sweep through town,” Dreher said. “What a great idea. It gives these young people a sense of community service.”

The event also will make some neighborhoods “look a little brighter,” Dreher said.

Jim Anderson, a member of First Presbyterian Church, said there will be work teams broken up of about a half dozen youth with an adult supervisor.

Anderson said they’re in the process of finalizing the application forms for income-qualified homeowners to distribute throughout the community. There will be some distribution sites through partnerships.

Anderson said the event will help homeowners “who need to have a little bit of a facelift” on their home.

Danville is one of almost 50 sites next year to be a workcamp site.

“We’re excited to be on the list,” Anderson said.

Coming Up The city will have a public hearing for citizen input on an amendment to its 2013 Annual Action Plan for community development activities at 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at city hall, 17 W. Main St. Using Community Development Block Grant funds for a Group Cares Workcamp to help with repairs and painting homes of low-income homeowners also will be discussed at the city council meetings at 6 p.m. on Nov. 5 and Nov. 19 at city hall.