Tuesday, November 07, 2000

Finneytown students help repair rural homes

Volunteers assist needy in Appalachia

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        SPRINGFIELD TWP. — When Jenn Annis was little, she remembers, she lived in poverty and got help from neighbors.

        So when she learned of a four-day community service trip to Corbin, Ky., to help repair homes in the poorer sections of rural Appalachia, the 18-year-old Finneytown High School student put in her application.

        A week after she and 15 classmates returned from their trip, Jenn says she has no regrets about her decision.

        “I wanted to give the gift I'd received to other families,” she said this week, when the group gathered to share pictures of their trip. “When we were there it made me realize ... how lucky we are. They don't worry about cell phones or having a ninth pair of jeans. They're happy to be with family.”

        Through Helping Hands Inc., the teens and teachers Lynn Volz and Fran Morrison, were in Corbin Oct. 23-26. During their stay the teens repainted the outside of one frame house. On a second house they stained the front porch and built a railing and steps.

        While there the teens stayed in the home of Helping Hands founder Verna Wilson. They worked all day and in the evenings talked or toured the area.

        “It was more difficult than I thought. It was tedious,” said Kenia Adkins, 17. “I thought we'd slap some paint up and then do touch up. I didn't know we had to scrape the whole thing first and then put on primer. I'd never done it before.”

        Kenia said she does not regret going on the trip and feels more confident about working with Habitat for Humanity, a group that builds homes for low-income families.

        “I signed up for this trip because I thought it would be a way to find out if I'd like Habitat for Humanity,” Kenia said. “I was very pleased with the experience."

        Jason Gwinn, 17, said even though he was tired at the end of each day, he'd do it again.

        “It wore me down,” Jason said. “I wasn't used to other people's snoring, either.”

        Mr. Volz said what the teens learned about one another was just as important as the work they did.

        “For the kids, the benefits are the variety of experiences they got. A lot of them have never been anywhere where they saw rural poverty. I heard many say how blessed they feel.”


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