Tuesday, 10 November 2009


COSHOCTON -- Some 400 teens will descend on Coshocton next summer from across the country for the purpose of helping citizens they don't know.
"You can go to band camp, you go to soccer camp, you can go to football camp and you can go to a work camp. And they've chosen not to go to another country or to a big city, inner city, but to go to places throughout the United States and work," said project co-chair Mayor Steve Mercer.
The work camps program started in 1975 in Colorado when a storm caused a flood that wiped out a small town and church. Locals from around the area, particularly youth, pitched in to help with the rebuilding of the city and the program grew from that.
Project co-chair Brad Fuller recently spent a week in Colorado where he learned more about the program and its workings. Fuller is in charge of home selection and assembling the needed materials.
"It's a well oiled machine," Fuller said. "They're teenagers, they're not skilled laborers, but they're all coming to this camp because they have some degree of skill."
The program will see 400 youths and 100 adult supervisors stay in Coshocton from June 13 to 19. They will do light repair and painting on 70 to 80 homes. When staying in Coshocton for the week, they will sleep and eat at Coshocton High School.
The youths ages 12 to 18 pay $424 to take part in the program, which pays for transportation, food and other needs. Those who wish to have their house worked on pay nothing.
"I see it as something that will be such a tremendous help to our community and to people in need. It's geared toward low to moderate income, the elderly or disabled, and certainly the economy the way it is it is difficult for that demographic to do much maintenance. So to have a group like this to come in at a time like this is just a perfect fit to give our community a real shine," Mercer said.
The program is Christian-based and provides more than physical repairs and work to the teens taking part and the communities they go to.
"It's not just home repair. That's a nice by-product. What happens is, it's a spirit that happens in the community and people really get on board with it and see this community spirit and take more pride in their homes," Fuller said. "Spiritually what happens (with the teens taking part) is a great thing. It's building them up personally. They know they have the ability to help their fellow man. The by-product is we get out town looking a little better."
Locally, $19,000 needs to be raised to pay for materials and supplies for the work. Paint, tools, ladders and other equipment also can be donated.
"I'm confident that we'll be able to raise the dollar amount that we need without city funds," Mercer said. "That money stays right here, it goes nowhere else."
The Coshocton Baptist Church is acting as fiscal agent for the project. Checks can be made to Coshocton Work Camps and mailed to the Coshocton Baptist Church, 1631 Denman Ave., Coshocton, OH 43812.
Applications for the project soon will be available at City Hall and those who wish to donate materials or some how aide the project can call the mayor's office at 622-1373 or Brad Fuller at 623-8027.