Another Brothers’ Keeper is in the books and those who took part in the ministry are already looking forward to next year.
Brothers’ Keeper (BK) is a service ministry established in 2000 through Parchment Valley Conference Center (PVCC).
This ministry allows youth to participate in a “mission trip” where they get to serve, learn, grow, and fellowship without having to worry about a passport.
Volunteers from church youth groups in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia gather every July in Ripley for a time of fun, fellowship, hard work, and on-site learning.
BK focuses on helping homeowners who have had some bad luck or life changes that have caused hardships in their lives, leaving them with housing needs that they cannot complete themselves.
One homeowner in particular, David Casto, had experienced a whirlwind of devastation. Between the passing of his wife, a tree crashing into his home causing major damage, and an accident on a mower, leaving him with a broken leg, he didn’t know how he would be able to come out ahead again. Through the help of Crew D with BK, Casto was able to start putting the pieces back together.
The crew came out to his residence and spent the week building him a new back deck and sharing the love of Christ with him by praying for him and showing him what being a bearer of hope really means.
“This is a wonderful group of people to come out and help people,” Casto said. “I feel really fortunate to have them in the county. I don’t know what I would have done without them here this week.”
Other homeowners that received assistance by the BK volunteers were also appreciative for the ministry.
“This week has been amazing, coming home and seeing a porch that wasn’t there before has meant everything to me,” homeowner Sheila Miller said.
BK 2019 proved to be a blessing not only to homeowners in Jackson County, but also to the 125 youth volunteers and additional adults that took part in the four-day mission.
“It was fantastic, I met so many new people and I got to help awesome homeowners with their porches,” second-year BK volunteer Chelsea Devins said. “We got to spread the love of God everywhere.”
“I loved helping out the community in multiple ways and really enjoyed seeing how we changed people’s lives,” first-year BK volunteer Brody Noble said. “I will definitely be back next year!”
“I love meeting new people and getting to help out with those who need it,” second-year BK volunteer Zoey Allen said.
“I love giving to God by helping those in need,” six-year BK volunteer Madison Keith said.
In it’s nineteenth year, BK is still going strong thanks to those who are willing to take time out of their summer break or regular work week to make the trip to PVCC in order to help others who are struggling with home repairs or other home maintenance needs.
“We had a lot of fun this week. My favorite part was spreading the word to the community and helping out people who need it the most,” first-year crew leader Jake Hypes said. “Not everybody can be as fortunate as everybody else, and those people need help in the world, that’s what we are here to do.”
“My favorite part was meeting these fantastic people,” first-year crew leader Denny Brown said. “I want to thank God for what he has given to us this week. Our people we work with and work for went above and beyond.”
“I love being able to work with the kids and teaching them how to do new things like working with power equipment,” six-year crew leader Larry Keith said. “I like teaching them new skills that they can use in the future or at least help their parents with.”
BK is an unforgettable experience for everyone involved and for those who work behind the scenes, it is something that they love seeing come together. Tom Dale and John Vannoy begin their BK work in February each year by doing site surveys and getting things ready by ordering materials and making sure they arrive at the sites on time for the work to begin.
“My experience started in March, seeing which homes would get repaired and all that, but this week has been fantastic,” four-year staffer Dale said. “I think this is the best group of kids and crew leaders we’ve ever had. They enjoy serving God and that’s what it is all about.”
“My favorite part this year was watching one man get saved while we were working on his house, six-year staffer Vannoy said. “He had been going through a lot of problems and this was the time for it to all come together. It has been a blessing to all of us.”
Many projects were completed during BK 2019, including 14 porches and six wheelchair ramps being built. Other projects including nine roofs being coated, walls and fences being painted, and numerous home repairs being completed.
“We do it all in Jesus name,” youth volunteer Mallory Bolen said.
Frank Miller is the director of the PVCC and he looks forward to BK each year. This year Miller and the BK team were able to help out homeowners in 50 Jackson County homes.
“We can change the world, and we are changing the world, one homeowner at a time,” Miller said. “That’s the way Jackson County is, we help one another, when somebody’s down, we help them back up and that’s a tremendous blessing that all these volunteers are taking back home with them, to go and to serve and to be a Brothers Keeper.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for Brothers’ Keeper or donating to the ministry, please contact Parchment Valley at 304-372-3675.