Every summer for the past 24 years, a group of youth and adults from The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit (Emmaus, PA) has traveled to Starks, Maine, a very beautiful and rural area. The group stays at the Camp at the Eastward, where the setting is gorgeous and the cabins are rustic. In Starks, the winters are harsh and the homeowners struggle to afford the labor and materials needed to keep their homes in repair. The weeklong adventure consists of service, community, and spirituality. The hard work proves to be a growing experience and very rewarding for all involved.
In planning this year’s trip, Holy Spirit reached out to Emmaus Moravian Church to join together in ministry. In response, two high school youth joined the 2015 trip.
Together, on July 31st, a group of 34 left Emmaus for Starks for a week of hard work, new friendships, and community. The Project Help group works with East Parish Housing Ministry Inc., a not-for-profit community led organization focused on assisting homeowners through volunteers. The work projects are selected through an application process that is managed by the East Parish Housing board. Project Help supplies the volunteer labor and financial support for building supplies. Work includes home repairs, helping folks stay in their homes through accessibility improvements (e.g. ramps and stairs), and splitting firewood for winter heat.
This year, Project Help worked on 13 different jobs over the five days of “work camp” in Maine. The projects included:
- Splitting and stacking over 4 cords of firewood
- Painting the North Anson, Maine fire station because they could not afford the labor
- Painting metal roofs to keep water and snow out. Metal roofing is common in Maine due to the heavy snows.
- Serving at two local food cupboards that support over 75 families each month
- Completely rebuilt an exterior wall that had been severely damaged by water and ice dams
- Installed a new entrance door on a home
Each year, Project Help’s roots deepen within the community. We feel so welcomed by each of the homeowners and truly experience God’s grace in so many ways. On Sunday, the group attended Shorey Chapel (UCC) in Industry, Maine. It was a wonderful time of worship and fellowship with the community who served a vast potluck luncheon for our group. On Wednesday, over 40 people from the community attended our picnic at camp, receiving quilts made by church members, and enjoying our “talent” show activities.