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Plainfield Central HS teachers, students help area needy through summer church service project

Plainfield High School -- Central Campus math teachers Lynn and Tom Bond helped organize a week-long project to help repair homes in the Joliet area, by "Reach Workcamps", a service ministry based in Colorado.

Plainfield High School -- Central Campus math teachers Lynn and Tom Bond helped organize a week-long project to help repair homes in the Joliet area, by "Reach Workcamps", a service ministry based in Colorado.

What do you get when you add two math teachers and about 150 more volunteers? A lot of help for needy people in the Joliet area this summer.

Tom and Lynn Bond, who both teach math at Plainfield High School – Central Campus are among about 150 people from across the country – including some District 202 students — who will use PHSCC as a home base from June 17-23, 2012 as they repair houses in the Joliet are through the “Reach Workcamps” organization.

Reach Workcamps is a week-long service mission to low-income communities. Since 1992 the Galeton, Colorado-based organization has worked with local agencies and/or local churches to do a wide range of home repairs in towns around the country.

The workcamp is staffed by middle school, high school and college students, and adult sponsors and chaperones.

The Bonds got involved with Reach about 10 years ago through their church, Messiah Lutheran in Joliet. Their kids volunteered for several excursions over about 10 years, Tom Bond said.

“Finally, they (our kids) let us go on one,” he joked. Now, he and his wife have helped fix up homes in Alaska, Georgia, West Virginia, New York State, North Carolina and others.

This year, the Bonds and Messiah’s Youth Minister, Dave Stier helped organized a visit to the Joliet area. This camp is the first of eight slated for this summer in Illinois, Tennessee, West Virginia and New York State.

The group of about 150 students and adult chaperones coming to PHSCC will sleep, eat, and shower at the school. During the day, they will work on houses in the Lockport, Crest Hill, and Joliet areas for people who cannot afford to do the repairs themselves.

Unlike “Habitat for Humanity,” another popular charitable organization, Reach Workcamp volunteers do not build houses. Rather, they do restoration projects designed to make the homes safer, drier and warmer, said Heather Moulton, Director of Participants.

Homeowners apply to Reach Workcamps for consideration, Moulton said. One of the most important aspects of the application process is that the homeowner be present when the work is being done, she said.

“We’re a ministry built around relationships, so we want the volunteers to have the opportunity to get to know the homeowners while they’re on site,” she said.

Projects can range from installing decks and drywall, to painting to roof repairs, to plumbing. “It depends on the skill levels of our participants,” Moulton said. “We do have ‘trouble-shooters’ in place,” who are professional craft people to make sure the projects are done correctly, she added.

Tom Bond said one of the projects being done in Joliet is to build a 60-foot wheelchair access ramp to a house.

“We got involved because it is such a rewarding experience to be able to help people who need the help,” Lynn Bond said.

And the rewards go both ways, Moulton said.

“I think the biggest (reward) is showing people who need some help, that they’re worth it,” Moulton said. “They’re worth someone else’s love and time and work.”

For more information about Reach Workcamps, please visit: www.reachwc.org

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