SHAMOKIN - A group of missionaries from Massachusetts wrapped up a week of work by welcoming local residents to an afternoon of grilling and socializing at Claude Kehler Memorial Park.

The 33 volunteers from New England Chapel, of Franklin, Mass., arrived in Shamokin Sunday to perform construction work on dilapidated homes.

The group's work includes replacing moldy insulation, building handicap ramps for elderly residents and repairing electrical wiring.

Dena Gauthier, organizer of the trip, said the mission came to fruition when the church's relief arm, World Renew, suggested Shamokin as a potential site within driving distance of the chapel.

"When we arrived, we had the sense 'This is where we should be,'" said Gauthier, who added that she was especially touched by work performed on the home of a man who had been sleeping on his porch for the past three years.

Volunteer Arthur Linnell, who has family from the Columbia County area, said the best part of the trip for him was hearing the stories of local residents.

"We're happy just to talk to people," said Linnell. "It's great to be part of the community here."

The group will depart today, but Gauthier said she hopes to return next year to complete additional work.