The sound of hammers and saws in action could be heard up and down Jackson Street this week as volunteers of Jasper County Honey Do Ministries helped neighbors in Newton and throughout the county on various home improvement projects.
Appreciative of the help was Jackson Street resident Gail Wilson, who benefited from home repair and, more importantly, the fellowship of those involved.
“I can't tell you how blessed I am to have these people in my home,” said Wilson. “These are everyday people, helping other people.”
Wilson, along with her two dogs, visited with 12-year-old Jade Monroe and 13-year-old Noelle Stoops while other members of the volunteer organization helped on projects large and small in her home.
“It's difficult keeping up with the house,” said Wilson.
After losing her husband several years ago, Wilson struggles to keep up with housework since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Volunteers did small projects, including yard work, painting, scrubbing walls and cleaning cabinets in her home, while Roger Kinder pulled up flooring and removed a rotten area around the toilet and sink in Wilson's bathroom. Although Kinder is not a plumber – he owns and operates Rest Haven Nursing Home in Newton – an act of kindness is rewarding to the Newton native.
“I just enjoy helping people,” he said.
As Karen Kerner painted a doorway in Wilson's home, she recounted the growth of the program since its inception 16 years ago.
“We only had seven jobs when this first started,” said Kerner, who noted Honey Do Ministries will ideally complete 40 projects this week. “It's so nice to see local people behind it. You meet so many folks that live in the area that you didn't know.”
Over the years, Kerner has helped with roofing, painting, cleaning interiors, installing siding and underpinning.
“I've done a little of everything,” said Kerner, who says people from the community constantly mention how nice areas look after the volunteer crews leave. “It is amazing what just a little work can do.”
Across the street, a crew worked steadily into the midday heat to demolish and replace a rotting front deck. Billi Carrington, who also volunteers at a local food pantry, was drawn to the hands-on nature of the work. Prying back board and moving lumber, Carrington said she is satisfied doing a good deed.
“It feels awesome to be able to help so many,” she said. “I love it.”
Rick Brown, who along with Randy Stoops was measuring a beam for roof support over the deck, said the volunteer work is a labor of love.
“This is about sisterly and brotherly love between people,” he said.
Project Coordinator Debbie McClure said the organization tries to assist the handicapped, senior citizens and those on a low income. Work is financed through donations from individuals and churches, along with various donations.
Each day's work is started with a prayer and breakfast, staying true to the ministry's mission.
“Our desire is to provide grace in tangible ways through home repair and renovation, fellowship and opportunities of sharing through work, worship and praise,” the organization's mission statement reads.
For McClure, the work does more than benefit those in need.
“This is the most rewarding work I have ever done,” she said.
Tony Huffman can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, at email@example.com or on Twitter @Ednthuffman.