Volunteers do mission work in Riverbendby Kathie Bassett - The Telegraph on May 22, 2013
ALTON - Members of an area church have discovered that mission work done close to home is just as rewarding as traveling far around the globe.
In collaboration with Dale Neudecker of Bucket Brigade and the city of Alton, volunteers with Calvary Cares, members of Calvary Baptist Church, 1422 Washington Ave. in Alton, spent much of this past week working on 14 homes in the River Bend.
"We've been involved in short-term missions all around the world," said Calvary Baptist Church's pastor, Rick Patrick. "We decided we wanted to do something on a large scale locally."
The group took a hands-on approach to their ministry by volunteering their time to paint homes, build decks, make repairs and do yard work. On average, more than 60 church members volunteered to help in some capacity on each of the four days of ministry.
"People enjoy worship, but they are also very interested in reaching outside," Patrick said. "This experience allows people to take what Christ has done in life and share with others."
Carol Wheaton and her two children, Tori, 11, and Nate, 14, braved the heat Thursday to paint homes at Enchanted Village, off Fosterburg Road in Alton.
"I believe it's very important to teach young people about service and helping others," Wheaton said. "With TV and video games so prevalent, kids don't see enough of the need to help others and get involved in their lives."
Wheaton said it also has been gratifying to see her children bond with the youngsters who live in the homes they have helped paint and repair.
"Nate became friends with D.J. (Martin) when we were painting his mother's house, and D.J. has decided to come out and help us paint another home," Wheaton said.
Feeling positive about helping others, Martin, 14, enlisted the help of his cousin, Cameron Jones, 17, to paint, as well.
"So many kids don't like to get out and help," Martin explained. "After going to a (church) meeting, I would like to go on some of the mission programs that are farther away, too. It's cool to come out and help the community."
The seven homes painted in Enchanted Village had been nominated for and approved by Bucket Brigade, so they already had passed the organization's inspection.
"When Calvary Baptist contacted me and told me they wanted to do local outreach, we suggested that they take these homes on," Neudecker said. "They did us a big favor, because we thought we would have to carry these homes over to next year."
To aid the volunteers, Bucket Brigade supplied the paint.
"None of this is done with any expectations, although God lines up the connections," Patrick said. "The first part is meeting people's physical needs; the second and more critical part is spiritual ministry."
While helping others, Patrick said church members are presented with an opportunity to not only talk with homeowners but also with their neighbors.
"There have been four spiritual victories won this week," he said. "Their eternity is now different, and seeing them come to have faith in Christ is a tremendous part of this."
During the course of the week, church members have been active in providing physical help, as well as sustenance through both breakfast and lunch.
On Thursday night, the church hosted a dinner for all involved in the multiple projects.
"Calvary Baptist has done a fantastic job," Neudecker said. "Even with the aggressive heat, they stepped up and helped some people in need."
Carlos Anderson, 16, a member of the Calvary Baptist Church in Alton,
helps paint a home Thursday in the 200 block of Rainbow Drive in Alton. Church
members were at different addresses in the Enchanted Village Community,
painting homes and building/repairing decks & porches, as part of the
church's volunteer group called Calvary Cares.