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Teen workcampers helping others

July 24, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Information about Group Workcamps Foundation can be found at www.groupworkcamps.com.

By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

erinc@herald-mail.com

As she's gotten older, Julie Green said she's been unable to make some repairs to her Boonsboro home.

And after her husband died two years ago, she said many needed improvements were neglected.

"I used to do all of the painting," the 70-year-old retired Boonsboro postmaster said. "I've always done it in the past, but it's harder for me now. I'm concerned about getting up and down on a ladder."

This week, the outside and inside of the home that Green has owned for 23 years will get a fresh coat of paint and a few other repairs courtesy of a week-long camp for teenagers. On Tuesday, a group of six Antietam Workcamp participants were applying a second coat of paint along the porch and preparing to paint her living room and dining room.

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About 330 students from 10 states arrived Sunday in Washington County for the program they say will bring them closer to God while they help local homeowners. The campers participating in the Antietam Workcamp will repair about 50 local homes that belong to the elderly, disabled and disadvantaged.

The camp took two years of planning by St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Boonsboro in partnership with REACH and other area groups. Antietam Workcamp is part of Group Workcamps Foundation, which began in the 1970s and oversees similar projects for 12- to 20-year-olds across the country.

Marshall Harvey said that, like Green, he is unable to make many needed repairs to his home on View Street in Hagerstown. Harvey, 80, said he's lived there for 45 years.

On Tuesday, Antietam Workcamp participants were painting the outside and inside of his home.

"I'm glad to see it being done because I'm unable to do it," Harvey said.

William Cassidy has lived on Mitchell Avenue in Hagerstown on and off since he was born. The 56-year-old said he moved back permanently about 14 years ago, but has had trouble going in and out of his home since being confined to a wheelchair two years ago.

The volunteers at his home Tuesday were building a wheelchair ramp.

"My son built me a makeshift ramp, but they're building a better, nicer ramp for me," Cassidy said.

The campers also were painting the outside of his home. He said the paint was badly chipped, and he called the house an "eyesore."

"I'm in a wheelchair, and I haven't got the resources or anything," Cassidy said. "I needed my house painted really bad."

Green said that while her home needed the improvements, she's really enjoyed spending the week with the teenagers.

Sarah Laux, 15, of Bellville, Ohio, was one of the volunteers painting Green's house Tuesday. She attended a similar camp last year and said she enjoys meeting new people, including her work crew and Green.

Members of her crew include adult leader Les Deyer of Michigan; Jacob Lange, 15, of Texas; Jack Carroll, 15, of Connecticut; Christine Prendergast, 17, of New York; and Tommy Seng, 16, of Damascus, Md.

"It's been fun," Tommy said. "You've done something good for somebody, and you meet new people."

Green said she is getting more from the Antietam Workcamp than just a fresh coat of paint on her house.

"It's a real blessing to have them here," she said. "It's a blessing to have the work done, but more of a blessing to share the week with these kids. They're such great people."

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