Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership and West Central Minnesota Communities Action Inc. are teaming up with Group Cares to help improve homes within 30 miles of Breckenridge, Minnesota, July 22-28.
If your home could use minor repairs or a fresh coat of paint, it could be a project for the teen campers that week who will be in town. The organizations are reaching out to the elderly, disabled, single parents and income-eligible residents whose Minnesota homes could benefit from the free services offered during the camp.
Close to 300 faith-based high school students from around the United States will be housed at Breckenridge High School for the week, and work in groups of 4-5 with at least one adult leader at each home site. Site writers will visit each home prior to the Group Cares Camp and help with identifying repairs and materials needed for each specific project.
Sarah Boesen with Lakes and Prairies stresses that the services are offered at no cost to the homeowners, who only need to fill out an application.
“Both labor and materials will be free to qualifying households,” she said. “We’re looking for homes that could provide projects for the kids.”
If your home has enough repair work to fill up 4 to 4 1/2 days, you are urged to apply. Only homes within a 30-mile radius of Breckenridge, on the Minnesota side, can be considered.
Work will be done by youth volunteers. Households receiving assistance must agree to provide water, electricity for tools, a restroom for the volunteers as well as providing an adult in the home the week of the repairs.
Heidi Grove with West Central Minnesota Communities Action Inc. shared stories of past Group Cares Camps at two meetings this week with community leaders, and stressed that lifetime relationships are often created between the homeowners and youth who work on the houses.
At least $19,000 needs to be raised to pay for the construction supplies for the week, and local companies and government entities have contributed almost $10,000 at this point.
The youth pay more than $400 each to attend the camp and typically bring donations for the community’s food pantry and crisis centers, for example. That money goes to pay for their food and lodging expenses while in the community, and toward some of the construction supplies.
The community the camp is held in can get involved by offering support to campers in a number of ways:
• Adopt a site – bring treats to the youth volunteers each day
• Bellhops – welcome the campers to town as they arrive and help them get situated at the school
• Make welcome signs and banners
• Lend your ladders to the campers
• Assist with construction camp cleanup
• Lend construction knowledge and expertise to the sites
• Host a welcoming dinner or Wednesday afternoon picnic – service organizations and church groups, for example, can partner to provide a dinner for the campers on arrival, or provide a meal and activities during their free Wednesday afternoon
• Assist the school district’s custodial staff in clearing furniture out of classrooms prior to the campers’ arrival and cleaning up at the end of the week.
The camp is a great way to show off the community to the campers and adult chaperones, who travel from across the United States to take part in these projects. Many of the students will return with their families on vacation to the communities they worked in.
About 70 homes need to be identified to make the camp worthwhile, and as of this week, only about 25 applications have been received. Organizers encourage homeowners in Wilkin County, Minnesota, to fill out an application to have the free work done. Examples of the type of work that can be completed through the Group Cares Camp include minor repairs – handrails, porch/steps, mobile home skirting repair; new wheelchair ramp construction; new stoop and step construction; new steps only; weather stripping around windows/doors; caulking around windows/doors; new mobile home skirting; minor fascia/soffit repair or painting.
Both interior and exterior painting are also done.
If your home could benefit, or you have a neighbor or family member whose home could benefit from the free services, you’re asked to contact either Sarah Boesen at Lakes and Prairies at 218-643-2888 or Heidi Grove at WCMCA at 218-685-7033 for an application. You may also visit www.lakesandprairies.net for additional information. Community members who want to help out with the projects or support campers may also contact Boesen or Grove. To assist the school in setting up and tearing down the camp site, call Superintendent Diane Cordes at the district office at 218-643-6822.
Applications need to be completed and turned in by April 30.