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Within Reach

Young volunteers repairing homes in Broadalbin area

July 12, 2012
By JOHN BORGOLINI , The Leader Herald

BROADALBIN - Sylvia Karp sat in her kitchen Wednesday morning making snacks with the sounds of footsteps on her roof and hammers reverberating throughout her Union Mills Road home.

The 80-year-old Karp said she doesn't have much energy anymore, but the seven workers with the Reach Workcamps program had a lot of energy as they rebuilt the roof and repainted the front porch.

Reach Workcamps is a Christian-based organization that provides a week-long volunteer service to low-income communities at no cost to homeowners.

Article Photos

Reach Workcamp volunteers work on Sylvia Karp’s roof Wednesday morning at the Union Mills Road location in Broadalbin.
The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini

A group of 479 volunteers - made up of youths and their adult sponsors - is in Broadalbin this week, staying at the Broadalbin-Perth High School gymnasium.

The group is in the fifth week of an eight-week endeavor that also includes stops in Joliet, Ill., Clinton, Tenn., Kanawha County, W.V., Eleanor, W.Va., and Ontario, Wayne County.

"When you're 80 and you make a list of five things to do, you do one thing and you get tired," Karp said. "I can't even do the greenery outside, which I loved to do. You have to cope with the cards you're dealt.

"They're just so wonderful. I'm so pleased with the youngsters. It's seems at every turn they don't goof around. They're hardworking."

The program began in 1992 and has hosted 117 work camps and more than 43,000 junior and senior high school students and their adult sponsors.

To become involved, each worker has to pay $399, which is usually raised through charity, but workers such as Coert Voorhees Jr., a youth from the Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane, W.Va., say the cost and effort are well worth it.

"It doesn't just stay here. It goes home with you," he said. "It doesn't matter what age you are. It doesn't matter what work experience you have. You just band together and help each other."

Mike Jones, co-founder of the organization, said the program was created to give youths the chance to help people and provide them with warmer and drier conditions in their homes.

"We say regardless of the name over our church, we're called to be servants," Jones said. "Out of response of what God has done for us, we're serving him. That comes in paint, wheelchair ramps, drywall and roofing. That's one part, but I hope the students walk away with a sense of their value."

The Reach program was co-founded by Paul Moyer, a former minister of the Broadalbin First Presbyterian Church. He gave $10,000 to Jones.

The inaugural camp took place in Madison, Ky., and the second camp was held in Johnstown.

Since then, the volunteers have been back five times, most recently in 2006, and have worked in several locations in the county, including Amsterdam, Broadalbin, Fonda, Fultonville, Gloversville, Johnstown and Mayfield.

Jones said the volunteers have completed about 200 local projects during the five trips.



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