POINT PLEASANT — For the third year, volunteers from across the country have arrived in Point Pleasant to provide assistance to those who need it — at no cost.
In 2014, the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church became a hosting site for volunteer groups sent to the area from Ministry of Advocacy and Workcamps (WVMAW).
Since 2001, West Virginia MAW has brought 40-75 volunteer groups per year to work in West Virginia. Their work has consisted of home repair and reconstruction, deconstruction, playground restoration, parks cleanup, stream bank stabilization and vacation Bible schools, among other things. But more than just hammers and nails, the groups have a mission of building relationships with people in West Virginia, changing lives in the name of Jesus Christ, according to organizers.
This week, WVMAW sent volunteers from Jefferson UMC in Jefferson, Ohio, in Ashtabula Township. The majority of the volunteers are teenagers, with several having recently graduated from high school and, instead of going on senior trips, are volunteering to build porches and repair water leaks. Often, the groups also consist of college-age students from universities across the country.
The Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church provides housing and dinner in the fellowship hall for each group. In addition, a church member is a site manager for work details — a position held by George Dowell, of Point Pleasant.
Dowell said, already, two porches and a ramp have been placed on homes for those who are disabled and a water leak was repaired at a church, with some of that work done by last week’s group from Clear Spring United Church of Christ from Maryland. The next group is scheduled to arrive July 23 from Arlington, Va. Though a group was scheduled to arrive next week, it was diverted to the flood zone to assist with that recovery effort.
Dowell said the Presbyterian Church has the capacity to house 42 volunteers and added all work the volunteers do is at no charge to the recipient, which is chosen through an application process handled locally at the church. Applications are available at the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church and recipients are chosen who do not have the financial means to complete much-needed projects, such as a disabled person who needs a ramp installed at their home.
Dowell said people don’t believe it when they are told the work is done for free but it is — that’s the point.
Lisa Brail, mother of two volunteers from Jefferson UMC and a cook on the mission trip, said she hoped her children took away an understanding that there are “people out there other than yourself” and that they “see what’s out there and what they can do” for others.
Other benefits of the groups coming in are chances for visitors to experience the area. Brail called Point Pleasant’s riverfront with its murals “just amazing” and spoke about everyone getting their photo with the Mothman statute, also mentioning the shops in downtown Point Pleasant. The group plans to attend this week’s Regatta to take in even more local culture and activities.
WVMAW is supported in part by The Presbytery of West Virginia, The Synod of the Trinity, and gifts from churches and individuals. The organization has a close relationship with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, particularly in times of disaster recovery and are part of the flood recovery effort which is happening now across the state.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.