By CECIL PERGRAM
Over 200 youths from across nine different states came together on a mission trip with the organization, Reach ,to complete numerous home improvement projects over the course of a week long stay in Powell County.
The campers were working in the county from June 25 through July 1 to help citizens with making home improvement projects such as roofing repairs, building porches and wheel chair accessible ramps at no cost to the homeowners.
Reach missionaries worked on 17 different community projects within Powell County that was selected by the organization after accounting for its budget, the supplies needed, and the skill levels of those that would be attending the camps.
Deana Brooks has participated with Reach work camps in the past in Tennessee and Alabama.
Brooks says that Reach campers spend $400 out of their own pockets to participate in the work camp and some of that money campers spend goes into buying the materials and supplies for completing the community projects.
“Its kind of an amazing thing because kids have so many things that they could be doing, they could be at the beach for a week, but they come and do this kind of work.” Brooks said. “The thing that we love about Reach, it’s more than just people doing a project, they want to get to know the neighbors and let the people show their appreciation back to the kids.”
One example of this relationship building was in regards to one of the adult leaders with Reach who is from New Jersey and works as a investor on Wall Street. Brooks says that when she visited the worksite the man was working on, that he had been moved to tears because the girl at the home he was working on has spina bifida. She had helped the campers by nailing in nails on the ramp they were building to her home.
“When I got there I could still see the tears in his eyes, I thought that it was so neat that somebody from Wall Street is serving in Stanton, Ky. That this a different experience than what he’s used to, but he was very touched by what he experienced at that worksite,” Brooks said.
Brooks says that she can tell that the kids grow by the experiences they encounter on while working on the job sites.
“They are high school kids doing the projects, they have adult leadership from people called troubleshooters, who have a background in construction and are assigned to a number of homes that they rotate to and from to ensure those projects are done correctly. At the same time they’re also teaching the kids how to do it,” said Brooks.
“My sixteen year-old has spent a week roofing and he can tell me about the whole process. I think as parents sometimes we don’t think about getting our kids to use a power tool and help us build a porch. They come here and are taught by people and are doing projects that they’ve never done before so they grow spiritually, socially and emotionally by gaining self-confidence.” said Brooks.
“Being part of Reach has helped me to be exposed to new and different kinds of environments and it’s cool to get to help other people out,” said Abbey Raison from Dayton, Ohio.
Joanna Suarez is from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and was working on building a porch and ramp to Vickie Bush’s home in Clay City. Suarez says that despite this being her fourth Reach work camp that this year has been the best one yet.
“I’ve done four Reach camps ever since I was a Freshman and Stanton has been the most welcoming and generous community that I’ve ever gotten the privilege to serve. Mrs Vickie and Melissa Campbell has been direct representations of this community they’ve been so welcoming and gracious it has been a blessing to help them its sad to leave its been great. It definitely hard work but I wouldn’t want to do it for anyone else,” Suarez said.
Brooks says that she first found out about the organization Reach in 2012 after a women at her church became seriously ill and made a recovery and upon her recovery she came to members of the church to express the desire to go on a mission trip.
Brooks gives credit to the trip back home from their first youth mission trip in Tennessee leading to the organization later hosting a work camp in Powell County.
“We were coming back home and I still remember it to this day driving the road from Irvine into Stanton the girls on that trip we’re having a conversation about us needing to get Reach to come to Powell County. In 2015 while on another mission trip we started talking to Reach and asked about the application process they came out and visited the community to assess the needs of the community. They met with school administrators to tour the school and make sure it was set up to where it could host the event. We were ticked to death when they chose us and there has been discussion about them coming back in 2019 and we are hopeful that will happen,” Brooks said.
Reach is an non-denominational Christian summer missionary camp for Middle School and high school students thats been doing mission trips since 1992 to communities in the need of aid. The organizations mission is to make campers have a life-changing experiences that enables them to understand their role in combating poverty.
After 25 years of community service Reach has hosted over 183 mission trips, repaired 6,635 homes and conducted over 2 million hours of volunteer work. If you would like additional information or if you have questions about volunteering you can reach the organization at 1-888-732-2492.