PRINCETON — Covered Bridge Workcamp was a huge success in 2016, and it is coming once again to Bureau County in 2019.
Workcamp is a Christian mission event that offers free home repair for elderly, handicapped, and lower-income Bureau County residents. Work will be done the week of July 29-Aug. 2.
According to a news release submitted by St. Matthews Lutheran Church of Princeton, there is no cost for the material or labor for local homes selected.
A projected 300 to 400 adult and teenage volunteers from around the country will work on as many as 30 to 40 homes.
Local youth groups can participate in a mission opportunity in their own backyard. To do the actual home repairs, local groups need to register just like a group coming long distance.
The cost per camp volunteer is $464 and includes lodging and meals (except Wednesday supper.) Wednesday afternoon and supper are free time. For information on registration as a camper, go to www.GroupMissionTrips.org.
In 2016 when Workcamp first came to Bureau County, 101 local residents completed applications for this free home repair. After learning how many volunteers were coming and evaluating the work requested, 34 homes were selected for projects.
The 2016 work was done by 241 teenage and adult volunteers from around the USA. These volunteers were supported in the background that week (early morning into each evening) by 20 Group Mission Trips staff members and 65 local volunteers.
A large number of people also assisted, including 15 congregations or community groups who provided daily treats for the campers; 65 people were part of a prayer chain. Some 31 households and businesses lent ladders.
Along with the 16 co-sponsors, another 45 businesses and community entities contributed toward the 2016 Workcamp. This included discounted or donated materials for the work projects, or even gift amenities for the volunteers.
The 2016 Covered Bridge Workcamp had a $203,533 economic impact on Bureau County. Paint and lumber supplies were purchased locally, and the volunteers also spent their own money in the community.
Plus, almost 1,000 pounds of food and supplies were donated to the Bureau County Food Pantry by the 241 campers. Much of the food pantry donations were also purchased locally.
2016 event a huge success
The 2016 event was a huge success. The Group Mission Trips website (www.GroupMissionTrips.org), in recruiting potential campers, shares this insight from the 2016 Bureau County event: “The last time this collection of churches and citizens hosted a Workcamp, they hit a home run. Their collected experience as past Group Workcamp participants, as well as their connection to the people in their community, will ensure you are treated well and are welcomed into Princeton.”
The Group Mission Trips web page also shares this heartwarming story: “Bob used to have a good job in one of the factories — until Parkinson’s disease put him in a wheelchair. He has no family in the area and lives strictly on his disability income. He used to take pride in his two-story home — today, he’s become despondent over his inability to keep it in good shape. Worse — often goes for days without a visitor, without speaking to another person. His loneliness is turning to depression as his empty days drag on. He often wonders if he has anything left to live for. Perhaps you will find his heart needs your help as much as his house.”
So, the organizers for 2019 just simply plan to repeat the success from 2016. In order to repair 30 to 40 homes in Bureau County, the goal is to have $30,000 on hand for project supplies and other materials. Community support was so great in 2016 that an extra $10,000 was raised and will be used in 2019 as part of the $30,000.
Plus, each camper (youth and adult) pays a $464 registration fee. Of that, $30 per person also goes toward work materials in addition to the $30,000 accumulated locally.
Three sponsorship levels
Congregations, organizations or businesses can still be a supporter of the 2019 Bureau County Workcamp. There are three levels of local sponsorship.
Sponsors make a donation of $1,000 and provide at least two subcommittee co-chairs. Co-sponsors make a minimum donation of $500 and provide at least two people to serve on one of the subcommittees.
Sponsors or co-sponsors can be congregations, service organizations or businesses. Service organizations or businesses are not required to have members on the planning board but are welcome to be a part of the planning.
The Hosting Sponsors make a donation of $1,000 along with providing key leadership positions and signing key contractual agreements with Group Mission Trips. St. Matthews Lutheran Church of Princeton and Community United Methodist Church of LaMoille are the Hosting Sponsors.
To date, sponsors are Bunker Hill Church of Buda and Evangelical Covenant Church – Princeton. A growing list of co-sponsors includes Hampshire Colony Congregational Church of Princeton and First Lutheran Church of Ohio; and sponsors in-kind are Princeton High School, city of Princeton, and Perry Memorial Hospital.
If a local church or organization is not a sponsor or co-sponsor, they could still help. For example, a church could adopt a worksite to provide daily treats for the work crews during the week of July 29-Aug. 2.
A congregation or organization interested in supporting this effort can email BureauCoWorkcamp@gmail.com or call 815-879-6491.
The Covered Bridge Workcamp is still looking for eligible homes. Elderly, handicapped, and lower-income residents of Bureau County can apply for this free home repair.
Residents must live within a 30-minute drive from Princeton High School and must submit an application. There is no cost for the material or labor for homes selected.
Work must be able to be completed in a one-week time frame. An adult resident of that home must be present when work is done the week of July 29-Aug. 2.
The selection process will take place in the spring of 2019. Selection is based on the number of volunteers registered to attend the camp and the amount of work to be completed.
The Free Home Repair Application deadline is Nov. 30. Application forms have been sent by email to area congregations and are available at Tri-County Opportunities Council, at the Bureau County Senior Center, and area libraries.
Applications also can be found at www.BureauCountyWorkcamp.org for this 2019 community project.