Faith-Based Work Camp Makes A Difference With Home Project Help

During the week, campers painted interiors and exteriors of homes, landscaped and rebuilt decks. At Abdulahdi’s home, volunteers including (from left) Jason Swets, Landon Viss, Kianna Hiemstra and George Redfearn helped tear out the deck and replace it with a new one during the week. MIRROR PHOTOS BY KRISTI FISH
A faith-based work camp by Group Mission Trips and co-sponsored by First Pres Maumee helped with repairs on Toledo and Maumee homes. One of those houses is home to Mariam Abdulhadi, a Maumee City Schools employee and longtime resident. On Thursday, July 21, Abdulhadi invited campers and staff to her home for lunch to thank them for their efforts.

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Homeowners in Maumee and Toledo received minor renovations and updates to their homes last week through a faith-based work camp.

High school students and adults volunteered for the Group Mission Trips work camp cosponsored by First Pres Maumee on July 17 through July 23 and spent their time painting homes, rebuilding decks, landscaping and making other minor renovations.

Longtime Maumee resident Mariam Abdulhadi had two different groups come to her home to rebuild her deck and stairs and paint the interior.

“I wanted to cry. It’s really helpful, this is. It costs a lot of money to do,” Abdulhadi said.

The costs are covered by Group Mission Trips, First Pres Maumee and the campers – who pay to attend the camp.

The campers spend the week sleeping on the floor of the high school and devote a week of their summer to help improve homes in the area. Along with the obvious benefits for homeowners, it also provides a chance for the campers to learn basic skills, practice teambuilding and expand on their faith.

“They’re really trying to work together to provide something that will make it nicer for (Abdulhadi),” said Camille Meyers, an adult volunteer.

Abdulhadi said she was appreciative of all the work the volunteers had put in – at times working a little extra to make sure things like the deck were completed in time.

“They’ve done so much,” Abdulhadi said. “They’ve done more than enough.”

When Jason Armstrong, assistant pastor at First Pres Maumee, was first organizing the work camp, he knew the campers would go above and beyond, but he also knew the residents of Maumee would be hospitable and welcoming to the volunteers. Abdulhadi proved him right by showing her appreciation of everything the campers had done when she invited Group Mission Trips staff, along with other volunteers and First Pres Maumee staff, to her home to join her and the two work groups for lunch.

“She makes really good food and really good coffee, too,” said camper Landon Viss. “She’s taken very good care of us.”

Group Mission Trips camp director Don Steward stopped by the house and expressed gratitude for Abdulhadi’s reception of the volunteers and staff and said how vital she had been to the group at the school, too – keeping the students and adults fed and spirits high.

“Camp is about the physical work, but it’s also about the relationship – the relationship with the resident and relationships with each other,” Steward said.

Most of the campers didn’t know each other before the camp and had the chance during the week to form relationships and learn how to work as a team. It’s one of the biggest lessons Meyers hopes campers take away from the experience.

As for Viss, throughout the week he practiced a lesson taught to him several years ago by a theology teacher.

“One of my theology teachers a few years back told me this. ‘Do what you’re told, when you’re asked, to your fullest ability,’ and it is something I’ve really taken to the max for (Abdulhadi),” he said.

Leaders of the groups said they hoped the students could grow in their faith during the week while making a difference for the residents they served, and according to Abdulhadi, they indeed did make a difference for her.

“It’s been really wonderful to have them, and I hope they will remember me when they get old and come visit me when they are in the area,” Abdulhadi said, extending an invitation to all the campers who helped her. 

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