First Pres Maumee Brings Workcamp To Northwest Ohio Community

At Maumee resident Mariam Abdulhadi’s house, volunteers from the Group Mission Trips workcamp create an addition to her deck. The workcamp was brought to the area with help from First Pres Maumee. More than 20 homes across Northwest Ohio received repairs, ranging from painting to building decks and wheelchair ramps, with the help of 167 volunteers. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — More than 150 volunteers from across the Midwest converged on Northwest Ohio for a group workcamp on June 16-22.

Through Group Mission Trips, middle school and high school volunteers gathered in Maumee to provide home repairs for those in need.

First Pres Maumee partnered with the organization, collecting applications from homeowners across Maumee, Toledo and Perrysburg.

One hundred and sixty-seven students, along with their adult chaperones, stayed at Maumee High School to sleep and eat.

The students were then divided into 27 groups among 24 worksites.

“They have been painting, building decks, wheelchair ramps and more,” said First Pres Maumee director of engagement Stacey Tolbert.

The work the students are doing, Tolbert said, matches the church’s mission to “love first.”

“We know there are a lot of families in need around here, and to be able to do something outside of our church and really help the community is all a part of our mission and really important to us,” Tolbert said.

Joining the students at each worksite was an adult volunteer. Additionally, local project advisors assisted at several different worksites.

“We are kind of the connection between the group people, the site coaches, the residents and the workers,” explained local project advisor Charles Sheets. “We have local knowledge that can really help out.”

Sheets first became involved with Group Mission Trips many years ago, when he volunteered with his daughter.

Connecting the teenagers with people outside of their community, deepening their faith and helping those in need are all important principles, Sheets said.

“These are a great group of kids, and it’s really neat to get them to see how to serve others and spend time building relationships,” he said.

In Maumee, a group of students worked at Mariam Abdulhadi’s house over the course of the week, painting her kitchen and hallway and adding on to her deck.

Two years ago, when another group workcamp had been in Maumee, Abdulhadi had some work done on her home, but the group never had the chance to create a deck large enough for her to host her many family members and friends, so this year they expanded on it.

“I love to have visitors, and I am so happy to have a bigger deck now,” Abdulhadi said. “I just love to have people over.”

During the week, Abdulhadi spent time getting to know each of the volunteers at her home, in hopes of helping them gain new perspectives and become more excited about building relationships with others.

Though homeowners are required to be home during the workcamp repairs, Abdulhadi said she was excited to visit with the students and adult volunteers.

“I have loved them all. They are so nice and friendly,” Abdulhadi said. “I am just so grateful.”

At each worksite, Sheets said, the student volunteers grew closer to each other and the residents throughout the week, building connections that they will hopefully remember for many years to come.

In the future, he hopes the teenagers will do what he has done and continue to volunteer in and outside of their communities to serve others.

Seeing adults from First Pres Maumee stop by worksites with supplies, snacks and other needs will also show the youths some of the many ways they can help out in the future, he said.

“These mission trips can really just give them some perspective, and I hope it does,” Sheets said.

The Maumee area, Tolbert said, is a great place to see a close-knit community where residents support each other.

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