Brother’s Keeper recently wrapped up its 2018 season, helping numerous Jackson County residents with household repairs.
Renee DeLong is director of the Jackson County Family Resource Network and a member of the Brother’s Keeper Planning Committee. She said about 100 youths, as well as adult leadership came from all over West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to participate in the program, headquartered at Parchment Valley Conference Center and conducted through the West Virginia Baptist Convention.
“We have a group that has been coming from as far away as Cleveland, Ohio, for the last five or six years,” DeLong said.
The youths helped Jackson County residents with home repair s and other projects.
“They do indoor painting, outdoor painting, cool sealing of trailer roofs. They have been building porches, maybe steps on porches. They have built wheelchair ramps. It’s a lot of labor intensive work. Maybe someone has needed trees trimmed – that type of thing. But we stay away from licensed type of work – no plumbing, electrical, those types of things,” DeLong said.
Participants in the program pay camp fees, which go toward feeding and housing the campers, as well as purchasing materials for the home repairs. There also is a great deal of community support for the program.
“Local businesses provide community support as far as materials – places like Country 21 Market, Carter Lumber and Hardman’s,” DeLong said.
The program also has received grant funding from the Jackson County Community Foundation.
There is no charge to the home occupant for the work.
“You don’t even have to own the home to qualify. You just have to be located in Jackson County, and that’s just for consideration of travel time,” she said.
The campers get a lot out of the experience, DeLong said.
“They love getting the opportunity to problem solve. It’s a great opportunity to learn life skills, like how to use power tools and make home repairs. It also teaches teamwork,” she said.
The campers also get to meet new people because they aren’t always partnered with the groups they came to Jackson County with.
“Just because you came with a group from your church, you might not be with that team during the week,” DeLong said.
The campers also get to know the home owners they help.
“A lot of them establish great relationships with these homeowners. I’ve seen kids come back and visit previous homeowners they’ve worked for in the past,” DeLong said.
There are no income or age restrictions to qualify for home repairs, but DeLong said many of the people helped by Brother’s Keeper are elderly.
“We do try to serve more an elderly population. A lot of those are folks on fixed incomes. A lot of times they have a little bit of money to contribute to project, but can’t do the work themselves,” she said.