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June 19, 2014

Methodist Youth Force finish house repair projects today

DUNCAN —     Youth Force took Duncan by storm this week as they began renovations on a dozen houses in need of some fixes.

    About 130 students from around Oklahoma joined Justin Sommer, the youth pastor for First United Methodist Church in Duncan,  to repair houses around town.

       The week-long mission is an annual project of the United Methodist Oklahoma Conference.

    For the last three days students have worked from 7:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. They’ll finish their projects today.

     While work mostly has entailed adding new insulation and siding on houses, students have also fixed windows and repaired a few roofs.

    “It’s great for the youth to be working and learning some of these skills. They could use this later in their life,” Sommers said.

    Each house has eight to 12 students assigned to it, with  each group overseen by trained adults to make sure the job is completed correctly and safely.

    “These kids learn by hands-on experience at the site,” he said. “We don’t let a site go if it’s done wrong.”

    Houses in Duncan were chosen through an application process. The mission of the project is to help with upkeep on houses that homeowners may not be able to afford.

    All money for this project comes from camp expenses that students pay. The funds go to buy all of the materials needed to get the job done.

    Kristian Kelly, 15, has been involved with Youth Force for four years. She believes that this community service act is a way to get closer to God while providing for people in need.

    “It’s a really satisfying feeling getting to completely redo somebody’s home that can’t afford it,” she said. “It’s definitely a calling from God. He’s blessed me with strength and patience to get through these days. Working on somebody’s house, it doesn’t seem like fun, but it’s a lot of fun.”

    Kelly said her favorite part of the project is  watching the reactions of home owners.

    “They’re so excited and they’re so grateful,” she said.

    Terri Calvin was among the grateful.

    “I am blessed,” she said. “I loved them all and I thank them very much. It is a blessing. They have been nothing but the best.”

    Sommers said that for him, the most memorable part of the experience has been getting to move locations every day and seeing the different progressive stages workers are at.

    “They want to make sure it’s done right and that it looks good,” he said. “It’s encouraging to see their determination.”

    Although this project moves to different locations each summer, Sommers said that this was a good way for students to reach out to the Duncan community.

    “It’s an opportunity for us to talk to people we may not normally talk to,” he said. “It’s a great experience for anyone that gets to be involved in it on both sides, both for the family and for the people that are working.”

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