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10-03-2013


UC, Mountain Outreach, and local volunteers participate in annual Repair Affair

 


Williamsburg, KY.,- On Saturday, September 28, 2013, the Williamsburg Convention Center was packed to the brim full of eager community members waiting to get to work. Over 100 students from the University of the Cumberlands (UC) were among the community members who came out to volunteer their Saturday giving back to Whitely County in a remarkable way. Students got involved through Mountain Outreach (MO), which was part of a much larger, annual project dubbed the Bell-Whitley Affair. This year saw record breaking numbers for the overflowing amount of support and volunteers willing to spend their Saturday morning doing manual labors for others in need.

The Repair Affair is organized by the Bell-Whitley Community Action Agency, Inc., an organization designed to help people in poverty-stricken areas become self-sufficient. This year, Repair Affair volunteers worked on ten different jobs throughout Whitley Co., doing yard work, painting, building ramps for elderly or disabled community members, steps, and a variety of home repair jobs. UC was the biggest contributor of volunteers to the series of mini-projects; seven of the ten projects were completed by MO and volunteers from UC.

 


Marc Hensley, director of MO, was eager to begin the work at hand early Saturday morning. Hensley felt blessed by the strong outreach UC had to offer. “I’m so glad that Mountain Outreach has the opportunity to be involved in the community by participating in the Bell-Whitley Repair Affair again this year. Students get to branch out from the community and really get a chance to go out to Whitley County and to help folks that genuinely need it. At the end of the day, it’s not about the projects, it’s about the people. A smile and a Godly attitude will go a long way.”

Jonathan Bowman, an active member of MO, had a group of students and volunteers at a home that was in dire need of a back and front porch with a ramp and a door. The homeowner, Richard Rose, was the caregiver to his two-year-old grandson while his daughter worked and it was important that his home was safe and secure for the sake of the child’s wellbeing. He and his wife were also taking care of his in-laws who had both suffered recent strokes, leaving one of them bedridden.

“I desperately need these porches and ramps,” said the Brown’s Creek homeowner. “If our house were to catch on fire, or if we had an emergency, we would have no way to wheel my mother-in-law out of the home.” The homeowner was no stranger to being victim of house fires and he feared the worst for his family and wanted to take special precautions for his loved ones. Since Rose was missing a door to the side of his house, people were able to see straight into his home. Bowman and crew fixed the problem and placed a new, white door over the opening.

“Mountain Outreach is such an amazing program and I am forever grateful for them,” said Richard Rose. “Before our last house burnt to the ground, MO came to my house and installed a septic tank in our yard for us. I don’t know what I would have done then if it hadn’t been for those kind men and woman that day. I’ll never forget that. When I realized how much I needed help this time and knew I couldn’t do it alone, I contacted MO again and they pulled through for me. There are some great folks working here for me today and I am very thankful for that.”

Another team of workers took on the job at a lady’s home on Henry Mackey Road. She had small children and a wrap-around porch that was too demolished to safely allow the children to use. The porch was high off the ground and had no side rails or walls to keep the children from falling. The MO team and volunteers saw the small children and wanted to help immediately. They fixed the homeowner’s porch and even included a side ramp for the grandfather who was in a wheelchair.

Also on Brown’s Creek was a homeowner receiving the gracious services of the Repair Affair by getting a set of steps onto his front porch where there use to sit a few beat-up blocks. Elizabeth and Matthew Christopher from Christopher Chiropractic in Williamsburg were there alongside two MO team members. The Christopher’s selflessly spent their Saturday afternoon with a sledge hammer busting away the old steps and building a new set as the homeowner and his wife watched from the porch and served Kool-Aid to the hard-working team. “Marc told us about the Repair Affair and we knew it was something we wanted to do,” said Matthew Christopher. “My wife and I will definitely be doing this again next year.”

In Canadatown, another crew provided a family of four with a new porch and steps. Homeowner, Howard Lanham, said that his son had fallen off the old porch in the past and that it wasn’t safe. When Lanham received the phone call that they were going to build them a new deck he said that he felt very excited and very blessed. “I thank the good Lord for the help,” said Lanham.

This eagerness to be involved with the ministry of MO was apparent at another of the work sites where the Women’s Wrestling team had gathered to paint a house. “If I could do this every day, I would,” said Darby Newman, a freshman at UC. The girls had a humbling experience as well as had fun painting the house and decorating each other’s shirts with hand prints.

“It puts a lot of joy in everybody’s hearts,” said Donnie Stephens, head coach of UC’s women’s wrestling team. “The girls look forward to the community service. It brings them together as a team to care about each other and other people.”

The final project did not have as many workers so student volunteers from the Multimedia and Athletic Services dropped what they were doing and rushed over to help. The work that needed to be completed included anything from posthole digging, sawing lengths of board, decking the ramp, and nailing everything in place. The work was extensive, and true character was exhibited by the participants.

“We’re helping others and shining the light that God put in our hearts,” said Catrina Mills (Barbourville, KY) “It’s a blessing to go to a school that has such a great outreach program that goes beyond campus.”

University of the Cumberlands’ Mountain Outreach is a student-led building organization that has been nationally recognized for its work: The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty selected it as one of ten charities to receive the Samaritan Award; USA Today noted the program in its “Make a Difference Day” competition; President George H. Bush honored Mountain Outreach as his 220th Daily Point of Light; University of the Cumberlands is ranked as one of the top schools by Washington Monthly because of the service its students provide to the community; and the University continues to be placed on the President’s “Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll” in recognition of our students’ commitment to community service. This is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for dedication to community-based service projects.

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information, visit www.ucumberlands.edu.