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Parkwood High is host site for Reach Workcamp

Parkwood student Savannah Hargett, 17, has participated in Reach Workcamps since she was in the sixth grade. She is pictured doing roof repair on a Union County home.

Thanks to about 935 middle and high school students from across the United States, about 85 Union County homeowners witnessed home repairs in times when their own pocketbooks couldn’t afford them.

The goal of the program, called Reach Workcamps, is to assist those in the community who are disadvantaged, especially the elderly, with minor home repairs. The main focus and purpose of the workcamps, however, are to minister to the youth who participate.

About 45 of the students were from UCPS. Students attended the camp from Parkwood, Cuthbertson, Weddington and Sun Valley high schools.

This year’s camp, which began the second week of July, was housed at Parkwood High School. There were two one-week camps offered, involving about 400 to 500 students each week.

Campers woke each morning at 6:30 a.m., ate breakfast, had morning devotion and then went to the work sites at 8:30 a.m. to perform repairs until about 3 p.m.

Parkwood’s gym was set up as a worship center for students, with a spiritual program in the morning and one in the evening. These faith-based programs are non denominational.

“I like that we have devotion throughout the day because I’m there to work, but I’m also there to grow my faith,” said Parkwood student Savannah Hargett, 17, who has participated in Reach Workcamps since she was in the sixth grade. “I think it’s awesome.”

Homeowners who are chosen for assistance are referred to as “neighbors.” Homes belong to the elderly, those with disabilities or financial needs.

The program includes basic weatherization, painting and repair and construction of porches, handrails, gutters, steps, wheelchair ramps, roofs and dry walls.

Siler Presbyterian in Wesley Chapel sponsored the workcamps and identified the homes in need. “We take on the tough projects,” said Savannah’s father, Ricky Hargett, the local coordinator for the Reach Workcamps.

“We try to make the homes warmer and more attractive,” Hargett said. “We’ve roofed about 10 homes in Union County.”

Hargett, a licensed contractor, reached out to agencies like Habitat for Humanities, Crisis Assistance Ministries and Council on Aging, and several Union County churches of all denominations to find local citizens in need of help.

“We served homes from Marshville to Marvin -- Indian Trail, Waxhaw and Mineral Springs,” Hargett said.

Of the 100 applications that were taken, 85 homes were offered assistance. Over the two weeks, the Reach organization spent about $60,000 on materials for the Union County jobs. Each camper pays about $400 to participate in the workcamps, money that is used to cover the costs involved with the projects.

The workcamps are held at high school campuses across the US each year during the summer months when schools are out for summer break and students are on vacation.
During these experiences, Savannah not only learns new skills, she also gets to meet some very interesting area residents.

“I learn something new every year,” she said. “And I enjoy hearing about their experiences in life, and what they’ve been through.”

This is the third year that the Reach Workcamps organization has come to Union County. The first was the summer of 2005. The second in 2008. Each time, the workcamp has been set up at Parkwood High School.

Hargett said UCPS and Parkwood High School are to be commended for allowing the work camps to be housed at the school. “The school system and the school are the real heroes,” he said. “Without that school, a place to house the students, we couldn’t do it. We have to have a home base, somewhere they can get showers and meals.”

In existence since 1992, Reach Workcamps is a weeklong mission of service to low-income communities.

Students sleep at the school on top of sleeping bags or air mattresses, what ever the individual brings. “In one week, we had almost 500 people sleeping on the floors in classrooms at Parkwood,” Hargett said.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 01, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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