HUMC builds homes and friendships

HUMC volunteers do hands-on construction work during a mission trip to Jonesville, Va. (Contributed)

HUMC volunteers do hands-on construction work during a mission trip to Jonesville, Va. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HELENA—Members of the Helena United Methodist Church spent their Columbus Day weekend building and improving houses in Jonesville, Va., with the Appalachian Service Project as part of the church’s annual fall mission trip.

The Appalachian Service Project is a Christian ministry that seeks to repair houses in central Appalachia. Through the help of volunteers such as those from HUMC, homes are made “warmer, safer and drier,” HUMC Director of Missions and Small Groups Sherri Smith explained.

Every year, volunteers from HUMC travel to an Appalachian Service Project site and work with a project manager to complete repair projects to improve and make homes safer for the families living in them.

“We’ve been going as a church for 20-plus years now,” Smith said.

This year, 27 parishioners made the seven-hour trip to Jonesville, Va., and spent the weekend focusing on five separate homes.

Seeing the condition of some of the homes is an eye-opening experience for many on the mission trip, Smith explained.

“Some of (the houses), they really need everything re-done,” Smith said. “It really can be a life changing experience… your goal is to make that home warmer, safer and drier.”

The HUMC volunteers were split into five groups and completed construction tasks such as reinforcing floors, sealing a roof and installing a bathroom, flooring, windows and doors, Smith explained.

Throughout the weekend, the volunteers also got to know the families whose houses they worked on.

“You’re listening to the family, you get to know them,” Smith said. “They’re so appreciative and so sweet.”

Smith said this friendship building is one of the most rewarding parts of the trip.

“It’s getting to know the families, getting to know the children,” Smith said. “You’re building relationships while you’re there.”