St. John Parish to offer summer home repair program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — Group Workcamps Foundation will visit St. John Parish in July to repair more than 75 homes, in just one week, as part of their 2006 Housing Repair Program.

The St. John Parish Department of Health and Human Services were awarded $62,000, through the Section 533 Housing Preservation Grant Program of the United States Department of Agriculture, to bring in Group Workcamps, which are weeklong home-repair projects by volunteers from church youth groups, and adult sponsors. The teenagers do all the work themselves, but with adult supervision.

The project is to help residents that are elderly, low-income or disabled repair their homes by doing porch and step repair, wheelchair ramp construction, interior and exterior painting, weatherization, light carpentry and siding repair, according to information provided by the Group Workcamps Foundation.

&#8220We are really excited to be able to bring this great group of kids to our area to help,” said Director Raynette Lennix of the St. John Parish Department of Health and Human Services. &#8220This will be such a great experience for everyone involved.”

The teenage volunteers will only be in the parish for a week, but projects left unfinished will be completed by local volunteer contractors.

Also, during the time the volunteers are in St. John Parish, they will need a great deal of hospitality from the residents.

&#8220We want these kids to feel welcome in our area,” Lennix said. &#8220We want to make sure they remember St. John Parish, and show them they are appreciated. To do that we will need as many volunteers as possible to help with hospitality.”

Lennix said local churches and groups have been contacted for their help in July, and now is the time to sign up. Some of the ideas suggested were creating a welcoming team to greet the group when they come in, providing traditional treats, such as ice cream and candy, having a local band come out for entertainment in the evening that plays Christian music, pizza donations, and one of the biggest hospitality ideas is having something the teenage volunteers can take home.

&#8220I would love to give the volunteers a nice T-shirt to take home with them as our appreciation for the hard work they will do free of charge for our residents,” Lennix said. &#8220I went to one of the workcamps in Kentucky, and the volunteer teenagers received a T-shirt from the local co-sponsors as a way of saying thanks for the remarkable job they had done. It was a very touching moment for me to witness the great work these kids had done for the residents in that area, and I want to have that same feeling when they come here.”

Lennix said any small trinkets, such as magnets, key chains, pens, caps, and bookmarks are examples of something they could take with

them. The theme for this program is &#8220St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana Southern Extreme Workcamp-2006. It would be nice to have this theme printed on the trinkets that we give away.”

Lennix said there is a great need for volunteers and anyone interested should contact her as soon as possible. Even though the greatest need is with hospitality, there is also a need for volunteer site inspectors and contractors to inspect the homes, before they are chosen, and to continue work that was incomplete after the teenagers are gone. The program is first-come, first-served and to be eligible, applicants must be a resident of St. John Parish, owner of the home for at least one year, and must have an adjusted annual income that does not exceed the very low-income limits.

People of interest must call to receive an application on Jan. 3-6, and Jan. 9 at (985) 536-1100 or (985) 359-1626 between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Applications will not be available after the Jan. 9 deadline.

For more information contact Raynette Lennix at (985) 652-9569, ext. 210.