Greenville to host bevy of student workers next summer

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 5:44 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2011

GREENVILLE — Youth groups and worship leaders from all over the country are planning to come to Greenville to help people in need locally.
The program is called Flat River II and is run through Group Work Camps. It will take place in late July 2012.
“It’s a community event,” said youth director Claude Johnson.
Flat River I came to Greenville in 1999 and helped about 80 local people with their homes.
Youth groups pay and volunteer to go to different locations each summer to dedicate their time to helping others. The cost is more than $400 per person to participate.
The committee is planning to have about 600 youth volunteers come to the area. They spend a week sleeping, eating and showering at Greenville Middle School at night and working on their projects during the day.
The event is designed to help those who are need with items such as building wheelchair ramps at houses, painting, some roofing and more. Some items that will not be done are electrical, concrete and mechanical.
“Charity begins at home,” said Donald Gibbs, Flat River II committee coordinator.
The Flat River II committee needs to raise $19,000 for supplies and food for the volunteers. Once $19,000 is raised, Group Work Camps will match that amount, said committee member Josh Gibbs.
“This will make the faith community visible,” Josh Gibbs said of the project. “It gives youth the opportunity to touch someone they have never met and will probably not see again.”
The Rev. Jerry Jones said the project will tie faith communities all over the nation. The committee would like to work with other local churches to help with the project.
In bringing the work camp to Montcalm County, the committee said it also will help boost local economy.
“Materials and food will all be bought locally,” Johnson said. “The kids will also be spending money when they come to the area. It’s a great mission and it stays in our home county.”
Flat River II applications will be available in early October for those who need work done at their house.
The youths will be divided into groups to work at each worksite. The group also will include a leader.
The youth groups also can get help from local volunteers to keep the groups on track and answer questions.
About a week before the work camp, materials are placed at each work-site in preparation for the youth groups.
The committee will go through each application and narrow down the applications to those that qualify. The next step for the committee will be site visits to determine which houses will be picked for the project.
Between 50 and 70 houses will be picked for the project and are usually within a 30-mile radius of the site where the youth are staying. In the past, the projects have gone a little farther than the 30 miles.
To get an application, people can call the United Way or check local churches and EightCAP Inc.

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