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Youths make a difference with the stroke of a paint brush

Ninth grader Spencer Schor climbs up a ladder and takes a hammer to Judith Riley’s house. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
June 30, 2010
Every year the Gilford Community Church's youth group completes a mission trip somewhere in the country, whether New Orleans or New York, but this year an additional mission took place right in town.

Last week, over 20 youth members and GCC volunteers woke up in the wee hours of the morning and devoted three summer vacation days to scrape off old paint, repaint, and spruce up landscaping by Judith Riley's home on Old Lakeshore Road.

Riley was a member of the GCC and is a single parent who fosters children; she is currently fostering a disabled child through the Easter Seals.

"One of the main goals is to get the kids motivated to come back here (after their mission trip to South Carolina) and continue that work. This is our first year doing this," said GCC youth program director Scott Hodsdon.

Youth members ranging in age from elementary school students to graduated seniors turned out to help make over the exterior of Riley's home over the course of mere days.

"It's over a course of three days, and these are long days. The kids have been very motivated since they started. Some of our graduated seniors are still here, motivating the younger kids here to keep going. The kids look up to them," said Hodsdon. "It's a great way to start the summer. They are setting a good example for the rest of the community. I'm proud of them."

It is also a great way to incorporate past youth members that have gone on to their college years, and still allow them a niche within their church, he said.

On day one, youth members scraped old paint off Riley's house for half the day and painted the house the second half of the day. Seeing progress helped entice the kids, Hodsdon said, and motivated them to complete the final project and see all their hard work come together.

"The goal is to set an example for friends, the community, the young and the old. They realize they can make a difference in the lives of others," said Hodsdon. "Rain or shine, the kids wanted to be here. They showed up this morning (despite the overcast skies) ready to go."

GCC youth member Abby Ross participated in the mission trip to New Orleans a couple summers ago said the change of scenery suited the group well.

"It's nice to help people we don't know, but it is also nice to help out people in Gilford too that need it," said Ross.

Youth member Erich Bereghahn said all their work would be well worth it in the end.

"It's good community service and good to help people out – good people especially. Everyone drives by here. I am looking forward to pointing to the house and saying we helped that lady," said Bereghahn.

Adult church member Donna Snow helped out last week and said it was nice to do something for a single mom taking on a disabled child, since not everyone in the world would do so. Snow said Riley was thrilled over the project and bought paint for the youth members to use.

Local landscaper Joe Wernig also took time out of his morning to supervise landscaping around Riley's house on Old Lakeshore Road.

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