Church volunteers do work around county
From fixing leaky roofs to chopping down trees, church volunteers across the county are spending this week performing service projects for those in need in their hometowns. It's all part of a local multi-denominational project called Mission Haywood.
Though many members of the churches have gone on mission trips overseas to places like Africa and Peru, project organizer Mark Shepard said some members of Long's Chapel realized there were needs in Haywood County, too. That's why Mission Haywood was born two years ago.
"We want to help those around the world, but we want to help people here too," he said. "We just started thinking that if we're willing to go halfway across the world, we should at least be willing to go across the county."
Now, every other year, church members alternate from a mission trip abroad and staying right here in Haywood County.
For Long's Chapel member John Schrot, local mission trips are just as rewarding as trips overseas.
"We're just really trying to put forth Christ," he said.
Waynesville resident Cody Trull was thankful for the several church members who were spending the first part of the week on top of his Fifth Street home.
"The roof was leaking and the cost of roof repair is close to $6,000," he said.
He noticed the problem about a year ago and did some small repairs on the roof himself, but he knew professional work was needed. Thanks to the volunteers with Mission Haywood, he will have a new roof before the week is over.
Shepard said he and other leaders of Mission Haywood received names of clients like Trull from local organizations such as Mountain Projects, Meals on Wheels and the Division of Blind Services who could benefit from the mission projects.
Through donations and sponsors, Mission Haywood has about $20,000 to spend on projects large and small throughout the week.
At Trull's house, a group was working to remove and replace the shingles and wooden slats that were failing, causing the roof to sag and leak.
Long's Chapel member Jerry Southard spearheaded a different project to clear trees, shrubs and debris from a home in the North Ridge community of Canton, which took about two days.
"When we got here yesterday you couldn't even see the house because of all the trees," he said, gesturing toward the trailer and an impressive pile of small trees and shrubbery on the ground.
But there was more work to be done Tuesday, when volunteers helped clear out a pile of debris including furniture, old bicycles, heaters and more that the residents could not haul away themselves.
"Often it's easy to forget how blessed you really are," Southard said while hauling away a large piece of metal.
Fellow volunteers Bill Medford and Richard Damon filled a pickup truck with the recyclable materials and hauled them away.
Ethan Ward, a recent Pisgah High School graduate and member of Riverside Baptist Church, said he was excited to be a part of Mission Haywood. As a five-year veteran in the service organization called World Changers, he is no stranger to volunteer work.
"I like to help and share God's love," he said. "That's what we're supposed to do."
That's exactly what dozens of volunteers aim to do through other service projects across the county this week.
Along with small home repairs on about 25 houses, they have more projects in mind. An electrician who is a member of Long's Chapel will be helping to wire and set up about 10 air conditioners in homes of people who could not afford to keep their homes cool in the summer.
The youth group at Long's Chapel will be performing "random acts of kindness" throughout the week as part of Mission Haywood. They plan to clean desks and windows at local schools, pass out water bottles on the streets, help clean and spread grass seed at a children's camp in Maggie Valley and pass out coins at laundromats.
In addition, anyone can contribute to a week-long canned food drive at Long's Chapel. Food collected will be split between Haywood Christian Ministry, the Open Door and Canton Community Kitchen.
There will also be a free yard sale at Long's Chapel from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
A core group of about 75 volunteers will be with Mission Haywood the entire week, but there is a need for more help. To join in on a project, simply go to Long's Chapel United Methodist Church, at 133 Old Clyde Road, at 8 a.m. Thursday or Friday.