God's work: Group travels from Ontario to help restore home damaged in flood
MOUNT CARMEL - A home extensively damaged during a flood more than 30 months ago finally got some loving care, courtesy of a church group from Canada.
Ten volunteers, including six teenagers, from Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, estimated they will have worked 300 man-hours by the end of the week to repair a half-double in the 300 block of North Oak Street.
The home and surrounding area were flooded in September 2011 when Shamokin Creek overflowed its banks when as much as 12 inches of rain fell. The owners, who wished to remain anonymous, had previously gutted the building.
The group, including two more adults who are serving as unofficial "cooks" during the trip, drove six hours Saturday from their church, located about 75 minutes northwest of Buffalo, N.Y., to Mount Carmel. Since they arrived, they have spent seven hours a day replacing drywall and spackling, sanding, painting and rewiring three floors of the home.
The teens, between 14 and 18, are under the guidance of four leaders, one of whom is a certified electrician. They have taken turns tackling different jobs and said they enjoyed the opportunity to help others in need.
Alex VanVeen, 15, said the experience has been rewarding, and that she would volunteer for another mission if the opportunity presented itself.
"I would like to do it again," VanVeen said Thursday after a day of painting. "It opens your eyes a lot to what's out there."
Group members raised their own funds for transportation, food and a donation to St. John's United Church of Christ, Shamokin, where the group is staying. Materials were supplied by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which works in partnership with Susquehanna Conference Disaster Response. Andrew Fox is serving as disaster recovery coordinator for the group.
After their already long day of work Thursday, the group helped serve dinners to more than 150 people at the weekly Shepherd's Table at Our Lady of Hope Church parish hall, Coal Township, later that evening.
"Was that a blessing when I got that phone call," Pastor James Bowers, coordinator of the Shepherd's Table, said of the group's request to volunteer. "That tells me they are really out there doing the Lord's work."
The group plans to leave the area Saturday, but only after seven more hours of hard - but rewarding - work today.