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Mission: McDuffie
Reaping residential repairs and religious rewards

Letha Latimore already had no qualms with today's teenagers.


At Thursday nightıs Mission: McDuffi e worship rally, homeowner Letha Latimore thanks the teenagers who painted her house.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
But she especially loves the ones that painted her house last week, not because they were getting paid to, but because they volunteered to.

A group of about 100 teenagers and 25 adults from several local churches in McDuffie and Jefferson counties spent last week repairing and painting houses, cleaning up yards and lending a helpful hand to nine McDuffie County homeowners like Ms. Latimore.

"I think that it made a big difference to these people," said David Lambert, the event's organizer and youth minister at Thomson First Baptist.

"Just talking with them at their homes, seeing their reactionŠ You could tell that it did more than just make their day. It really blessed them."

Now in its third year, Mission: McDuffie has grown each year. According to Mr. Lambert, this year's installment of the mission project was a phenomenal success.

"It seems to really have found its footing," he said. "The other youth ministers have caught the vision of it, and really it's become a collaborative effort."

During the evenings, the workers met in the youth building of Thomson First United Methodist Church for worship services. At the final service of the week on Thursday night, several of the homeowners came to participate and to share how the work done on their homes had helped them.

"It made me feel wonderful because it changed the whole appearance of the house, and it looks nice," Ms. Latimore said. "Stuff that I couldn't do myself, they did it for me."

Several other needs presented themselves as the week rolled on, and those in charge said that the needs were met only one way, by God. Appliances, such as stoves and refrigerators, were provided, and a well that had been inoperable for several months was repaired. "It's just been awesome to see how God has been there to provide for every need," Mr. Lambert said.

Not only did the work done during Mission: McDuffie help improve some area homes, but according to the homeowners, it touched lives as well.

"I really didn't know that people cared that much. There's people that really care because they have God in their heart. And that's just the way I look at it," Ms. Latimore said. "They don't see any colors, they don't see nothing. They're just doing. You can't help but to love people like that."

"It just means so much to me to see how teenagers can come together and care about their community at such an early age," said Merlinda D'Antignac, who has promised to get involved next year. "It shows you've got some good kids out there." In addition to members of the community being helped and touched, organizers said the participating teenagers were able to learn more about their role in the church. And they even said the week was a blessing to their lives as well.

"Things that were accomplished in addition to homes being helped with those who could not afford, young people got to work together as the body of Christ," said Dearing Baptist Youth Minister David Harbeson. "The young people, it gave them a chance to worship together ecumenically with folks that they normally don't get to worship with."

Organizers already have plans to expand next year's Mission: McDuffie to include more houses to keep up with the number of participants. They also plan to get some of the African-American churches in the community involved. Expansion into Jefferson County is also a possibility for next year's event.

Those wanting to participate in Mission: McDuffie 2005 as volunteers or those in need of home repair can contact Mr. Lambert at 595-4252.

Web posted on Thursday, July 22, 2004

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