BRISTOL - The heat didnâ€™t stop an army of 95 church volunteers from all over New England from tackling home repair and maintenance projects at 30 sites in Bristol, Plainville and Southington.
These volunteers are the United Methodist Army (Action Reach-Out Mission by Youth) and include people of all ages, and who will be staying at the Asbury United Methodist Church this week as they work on projects.
Gina Grubbs, Northeast Regional Director, from Long Island, said that the UM Army started 40 years ago in Texas and came to the Northeast 16 years ago.
â€śWe do home repairs for people who canâ€™t financially or physically handle the work themselves,â€ť said Grubbs.
Each day, the volunteers break off into teams based on project difficulty and the skill set required. They work at a particular site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
One of those projects Monday, was building a new wooden fire escape on a Park Street house in Bristol. There, the team was made up of a half-dozen high school age volunteers, who were led by Rick Sloan, of Long Island, and Dave Gordon, of Avon.
â€śThe old fire escape was dilapidated and had started to rot, it needed to be replaced,â€ť said Sloan.
Jake Sweet of Farmington, was one of the volunteers at the site, he was happy he was able to help.
â€śI like being given the opportunity to help out other communities that I would not normally be exposed to,â€ť said Sweet.
Sweet was joined by Quin Wolters of Darien, who was excited to be making a difference.
â€śI like meeting new people and seeing how they can make as much of a difference in your life as you can in theirs,â€ť said Wolters.
Wilber Blakeslee, who lives at the project site on Park Street, said that the previous stairs had been there for 40 years and had started to rot seven years ago. He also said that the volunteers were doing a good job fixing it.
â€śItâ€™s nice to see a group of young people outside working,â€ť he said. â€śA lot of people their age donâ€™t want to.â€ť
At St. Matthew School in Bristol, a group of nine younger volunteers, 13 and 14-years-old, helped paint the playground and clean the slides.
â€śOne of our first time volunteers said that it was awesome and that they canâ€™t wait to be back next year,â€ť said Laurie Sullivan, who led the team.
In Southington, Ted Brummel, of Long Island, and Chris Wolters, of Darien, led a team of eleven 17 to 18-year-old youths at a site on Pondview Drive. There, they helped to clear overgrown brush with hedge trimmers, replaced windows and replaced old tiles in a shower stall. Wolters estimated that it would take two days to complete the work. Once the volunteers were finished, he said they would move on to another site.
â€śIt feels amazing to help out,â€ť said Allison Appel, of Wethersfield. â€śIn talking to the client, she said she was getting emotional seeing all of us pull up to her house.â€ť
Once the week of volunteering is over, the volunteers and their clients will get a chance to sit down for dinner together and speak about their experiences.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.