Texas students on goodwill mission

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 16, 2000

News Editor

June 15, 2000 10 PM

They might look like your average Pike County teenagers, but they’re not. They might look like you average carpenter, but they’re not.

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What they are is a group of Texas teens on a mission in Pike County. The teens are aware

of their mission, and it’s simple - to rehabilitate homes in Pike County that are in need of repair. The hardest part of their mission is they are many miles away from home and they only have one week to complete their work here.

The teens visiting and working in Pike County are part of the Central Texas Youth in Mission group. Youth in Mission is an annual conference in which teens travel to different parts of the country to rehabilitate homes.

The teens in Pike County this week hail from Grandberry and Saginaw, Texas.

"We’ve been a lot of places," said Diana Schulz, a member of the Youth in Mission group. "But we have never been to a place like this. This is a wonderful community. It is awesome."

There are two groups with about 60 or 70 members in the area working on homes, Schulz said. One group is working in Troy and another is working in the county, but the work isn’t limited to Pike County.

"This year Alabama was chosen as the state for us to go and work," Schulz said. "There are between 1,600 and 1,800 youth working all over the state."

Preliminary plans for the teens trip to Troy were made long before the youth came to town. An initial offer of assistance was sent to the Methodist Volunteer in Mission Coordinator and site churches were selected. The Central Texas Youth Director Rachel Sandifer visited each site to determine adequacy. Construction Coordinator Brady Chapman then came to Troy to make work schedules and a list of materials needed.

The Youth in Mission has been working all over the country for about six years, and many states have been served by the youth groups. The mission began in 1994 in Missouri, where a group of teens travel to help survivors of the Great Flood of 1993. In previous years has been held in Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado, Mississippi, Texas, and now Troy.

"We stayed in Texas a couple of years ago to help with flood relief," Schulz said. "We couldn’t go somewhere else when there was a need right there at home."

Although the youth are far away from their respective homes, organizations, businesses and people in the community have gone out of their way to make the youths’ stay in Troy as comfortable as possible.

Lodging and kitchen areas for the youth has been provided by First United Methodist Church, which serves as a liaison between the Pike County community and Central Texas. Troy State University has opened its boys and girls locker rooms for the teens to shower, the Natatorium for swimming and the Wesley Foundation for worship and praise services. The youth were welcomed to the city by Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, and the city has waived all construction and landfill fees.

Other businesses in Pike County have been equally as helpful. Hendricks HomeCenter provided a discount on building materials, and Wal-Mart Super Center and Ingram’s Curb Market discounted groceries from the youth. Edge Regional Medical Center held a special breakfast for the youth on one of the mornings they were in town.

Work is not all work and no play for the participants. Two evenings have been set aside for entertainment at the TSU Natatorium and Wesley Foundation, and one night at the Pike Pioneer Museum amphitheater for a live concert.

While in town the youth will have to brave the heat to work, but insist on getting the job done. At the first of the week the group working in Troy tackled a house on Madison Street, but finished Tuesday, and moved to another location.

The teens mission in Troy will be complete at the end of the week when they meet in the Capitol City at Frazer Memorial Methodist for a giant culminating rally with the other youth volunteers across the state before returning to Texas – mission accomplished.