Reach Workcamps offers free home repairs
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA – If it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t.

Reach Workcamps, a summer camp for junior and senior high students, will be in Sylacauga for two weeks next June to perform free home repairs on about 75-90 homes in and around the city.

Applications for the program are currently available at SAFE Family Services Center, First United Methodist Church or Sycamore Post Office. Repairs can include most home projects like painting, roofing, drywall work, ramps, stairs, flooring and limited plumbing and electrical work.

The work will be performed at no cost by a group of teens supervised by a licensed contractor and other adults. The only requirement of the homeowner is to turn in an application, due by Dec. 31, and be present while workers are at their home. Homes can be anywhere within a 20-minute drive of Sylacauga.

“Because they are hosting two weeks of camp here, there is a real need for homes,” said Chuck Terrell, youth minister of FUMC, which brought the program to Sylacauga. “There’s really not a segment of the population that’s not eligible to be served, although they certainly give preference to people who show financial need or elderly or disabled folks.”

Terrell said many people who hear about Reach think there must be a catch, but there truly isn’t one.

“This is primarily a relationship-building camp, not a construction camp,” Terrell said. “Hopefully the homeowners can see what the students are doing as an act of Christian love, and the students then learn how to serve. Reach puts an emphasis on teaching students that what they are doing in this other city, they can also be doing at home. It’s teaching them the joy of service.”

An expected 400 students will attend each of the week-long camps, set for June 23-29 and June 30-July 6, 2013, where they will be assigned to work on a home with 6-8 people for five days. Supplies are paid for by private sponsors and camp fees.

Terrell said FUMC youth have been to nine Reach camps in the past and that sparked their desire to bring the program here.

“That’s what is so awesome about this is they pay $400 to go work on somebody’s house for a week, and students love it,” he said.

It took about two years to get through the application process, but Terrell said they are hoping this is the beginning of long-term relationship.

“Reach is expanding its operations and looking for communities to partner with, so they want a community that will really embrace what the program has to offer, and we hope Sylacauga will do that,” Terrell said. “Whether they come every year or every other year, that’s 50 new roofs every time, so we want Reach to be able to use this as a home base to teach students to love and serve.”

Reach, which is based in Colorado, will be in Sylacauga next week to review the applications and properties it has received thus far, and final selections on the homes to be repaired will be announced in the spring.

Sycamore is holding a town hall meeting Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at Sycamore United Methodist Church for anyone who has questions about the application.

For more information, contact FUMC at 256-249-0644.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

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