Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Students lend a hand for spring break
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Mar 24, 2014, 15:41

ASHLEY MCLEOD/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Rebuilding Together*Tri-Cities volunteers are shown at the home of Lillie Johnson.

HOPEWELL — Homes in the Tri-City area were given a facelift last week when a group of eight students from Greenville, N.C., came and partnered with Rebuilding Together*Tri-Cities.

The eight students came from East Carolina University, and were a part of the Wesley Foundation, a student ministry organization. Instead of relaxing on their spring break, the students decided that helping out others was a better way to spend their free time from their studies.

“They wanted to give a little of themselves to do something worthwhile for somebody else,” said Jeremy Benton, the campus minister of the foundation, who traveled to Hopewell with the students.

The group found the Rebuilding Together*Tri-Cities organization through the United Methodist Church, and decided to come to Hopewell and help out those in need.

The students involved with the renovations were all volunteers who decided to come to the area in order to help repair the homes.

“Personally I really believe in helping out in any way that I can, and that’ what I wanted to do here,” said Bobby Derringer, a junior at ECU who was involved in the renovations.

Rebuilding Together*Tri-Cities began in 1994 as Rebuilding Together Petersburg as a group of people who raised funds to help low-income elderly community members repair their homes. The group decided to branch out, expanding to work in the Tri-Cities, as well as Dinwiddie, Ettrick and Matoaca.

“Our mission is a safe and healthy home for everyone,” said Marilyn Milio, the executive director of the organization. “And our goal is to ensure that the homes are safe, that the homes are not a health risk for the residents,” Milio said.

The organization holds two major projects a year and participates in small projects in between if money is available. Every project is done by community volunteers, or in this case, student volunteers.

Lillie Johnson’ home was one of the projects the students worked on last week. Johnson had called the organization in order to get some help with repairing her home. She was put on the waiting list, and notified in September that her home would be worked on during this project.

The students came to her home for the repairs, which included repainting ceilings and walls. Other repairs done on the home included roof repair, fixing the electricity in one of the rooms, and fixing the roof.

“They were such a nice group of young folks, you didn’t even know that they were here,” Johnson said.

The students spent their spring break helping at different sites, doing work similar to that done at the Johnson home. This work also included completely repairing a hole in the floor. One student, Henry Phoenix, came in handy for this operation.

Phoenix, a construction major at ECU, was able to completely repair the hole for the resident due to his experience in his courses at the school. His trip to Hopewell gave him experience in his field of study, and at the same time a way to give back to the community.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing mission work and doing construction. It’ what I’m going into, so it was fitting that the best way I could help people was through doing construction and mission work,” Phoenix said.

The group of visiting students was able to stay in Hopewell at First Baptist Church. Because of them, community members now have improved homes which are safer to live in.

Rebuilding Together*Tri-Cities will be completing more projects in the future, and is fueled by volunteers. The organization is always looking for volunteers, such as this group from ECU. Without the help of volunteers, the organization would not be able to complete its mission.

“These homes would never have been spruced and fixed up if it weren’t for these wonderful young adults. This has been absolutely perfect,” Milio said.

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