The group — young men and women and a few church leaders from Westside — has spent this week working at a home in downtown Jasper.
“Every year we would go to another state and work on people’s houses as our mission work, but this time we thought, ‘Why not do something here in Jasper?’” said Rick Sherer, Westside Baptist’s interim pastor.
This week, the group has been repairing the roof and painting the home of 91-year-old Zula Dudley. The work involves replacing all the decking and installing new shingles. The home’s also getting a new coat of paint.
“Her house was leaking, and (Westside member) Sam (Carroll) had been over here a couple of times to patch it up and we came over to talk to her about roofing her house and paint it as well,” Sherer said. “She was very cordial to let us do this.”
Throughout the week as many as 30 different people have been working on the project. On average, there’s about 15 people working each day, starting at age 12 and up.
And that’s despite daily temperatures that have reached into the low 90s. “We’re Baptists. We’re tough,” Sherer said. “Last year, we were in Cherokee, N.C., and there was a heat index of 103 degrees every day.”
Even in the hot weather, it’s not hard to get the youth motivated to do the work, said Lisa Brown, the church’s interim youth director.
“They cut grass, they clean out ditches, they do it all,” she said. “They also have a barn lined up that needs to be torn down. And that’s to raise money so we can do projects like this.”
Donations from several area businesses also helped make the project possible, Brown said. “We got donations from Quality Vinyl, Scott Crump Toyota, Boshell Mobile Homes, Marvin’s Home Depot and Carl Cannon Chevrolet,” she said.
But it’s the hard work put in by the youth that make the projects so successful.
“They don’t just work, they do a really good job,” Sam Carroll said.
“These kids aren’t afraid to work,” Sherer said.
Sherer said Dudley’s home suffered some damage in the April 2011 tornadoes, and Dudley fell victim to workers who did a subpar repair job.
“Some guys came in and patched it but charged her a large sum of money that she really couldn’t afford to pay,” Sherer said. “They just didn’t do a very good job.”
Sherer promised a better outcome this time.
“When we leave here she’s going to have a new roof, her house is going to be painted, all the wrought iron painted and we’re going to leave the yard clean,” he said.
“It’s fun to get to hang out with the youth group, and it’s fun to know that we’re helping someone out who can’t do the work themselves,” said 14-year-old Katherine Sherer, who was helping with the painting.
“We like to help people,” said Sara Murray.
Justin Jones, 18, drove from Cullman County to help with the project.
“I’ve been on the roof every day,” Jones said. “It’s tough. When we put the tar paper down it brings the temperature up another 20 degrees. But I love serving others. It feels great being out here. It’s really great to be able to do something for somebody in our own community.”
Joseph Aaron, 18, said he’s not only helping someone else, he’s learning a new craft. “I’ve never done shingling before,” he said. “I guess I’m about to learn how.”
Sherer said the pride he has while watching the young men and women work is indescribable.
“More than I can explain,” Sherer said. “This is the best group of kids we’ve had. We’ve taken groups to Alaska and all over the United States. I’d take this group anywhere. They’re that good a group of kids.
“They understand the reason we’re doing this,” he added. “This is what we’re supposed to do.”