A multitude of volunteers from all over the country and from many denominations will descend on Cleveland for eight weeks this summer to make this mission a reality as they tackle approximately 90 home-repair projects in an effort to help restore hope to many families in need of basic home repair. They provide repairs to create a safe environment, build much needed wheelchair ramps and address dangerous electrical or plumbing issues.
From June 8 through July 30, more than 1,200 volunteers will descend on Cleveland to address the substandard housing needs of many local homeowners. More than 300 local volunteers will join in bringing the total volunteers to more than 1,500 in just eight weeks.
The projects range from removing and replacing old roofs to carpentry and paint. Electrical and plumbing jobs are also addressed depending on the skill level of various volunteers and availability.
Many wheelchair ramps will be built and installed. One recipient is Jim and Gewel Goins. Jim is a former Cleveland constable injured in the line of duty.
He said, “Not only have they brightened our home but four days of good fellowship have brightened up our life. I’m disabled and on social security and we have wondered what we would do. It’s a good feeling to receive this help. I know we got a blessing out of it.
“They painted the whole exterior of the house and repaired all the damaged wood. They even fixed the shed out back and painted it. We had a birdhouse outside but a limb fell and took it out, so they replaced the pole and even got us a brand new birdhouse, I’m sitting out here right now enjoying it. I met a beautiful group of people from Texas and I never will forget them.”
Bonner said, “Ocoee Outreach is a nonprofit ministry of the Bradley Baptist Association under the umbrella of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board. The goal of home repair is to share God’s love in the community through acts of servanthood and kindness. The theme for this summer is ‘Discovering a Servants Heart’, based on 1 Peter 4:10. God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.”
The need is great. In Southeast Cleveland, information from the 2000 census indicates the average income for a family of four is only $14,000. Ninety-seven percent of the children are on free or reduced school lunch programs. Fifty-six percent of adults never complete high school and three out of four homes have no male head of household.
Five local churches have committed to a week-long mission project putting all their resources into their home community. These local churches are Mount Carmel Baptist, Waterville Baptist, Clingan Ridge Baptist, Valley View Baptist and River View Baptist.
Bonner said, “For the past six summers, we have had 5,700 volunteers from churches in 18 states that have helped complete 345 home repair/construction projects.
“Without the generous contributions of others providing financial support or tangible supplies from vehicles and equipment, the citizens of Cleveland we serve would continue to suffer in substandard living conditions.
“We are thankful for the many volunteers and supporters and our major grant partners, Americans Helping Americans, United Cerebral Palsey, Southeast Tennessee Development District, Tri-State Resource and Advocacy Corporation, Inc.”
If you have a need for home repair, there is an application process. A team of volunteers does an assessment process based on need and projects. To receive a 2011 application, call 476-5493 or visit the website@ ocoeeoutreach.com.
If you would like to volunteer or make a donation, call 476-5493.