Home Works ecumenical project brings youth, adults together


JOHNS ISLAND  More than 70 teens and adults from across South Carolina traveled to this sea island the last week of July to make repairs and improvements to 10 homes of elderly and disadvantaged residents. These participants were volunteering for a Home Works community project, doing tasks such as plumbing, roofing, painting, sheetrocking, installing handicap ramps and building stairs.

For this most recent session, which ran from July 23-30, workers departed from Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia on Sunday and later arrived at St. Joseph Church in West Ashley. After settling in at the parish’s Family Life Center, volunteers then toured their work sites and unloaded materials and supplies. After a hearty dinner and evening program, prayer ended the festivities.

The rest of the week, from Monday through Saturday, each day began at 6:30 a.m. with prayer and breakfast. Lunch was served at the worksites, with the afternoon’s activities coming to a close with dinner at the Family Life Center. Area churches and local families hosted every meal, cooking up such delicacies as roast beef and pastas. A variety of activities were offered nightly, such as rosary, softball, soccer, and even reconciliation, to round out the schedule.

At mid-week, Bishop Robert J. Baker, along with Bishop Dorsey Henderson of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, made a visit to the home of Alice Wilkinson, and labored together in an ecumenical spirit. The two prelates even climbed up on the roof to try their hands at nailing down shingles.

“It’s good to see two churches working together,” said Bishop Baker, who, along with Bishop Henderson, was presented with a Home Works T-shirt and an engraved hammer at a ceremony later in the day. “It’s a beautiful experience to see the body of Christ working together.”

Home Works chairman Hank Chardos was on site overseeing the project, which entailed putting sheetrock and roofing on the Wilkinson family home. After work was completed there on July 29, a house blessing was conducted and gifts were presented to the residents

Chardos was also directing the efforts at nine other worksites, instructing volunteers of various skill levels.

“Teens go back forever changed,” Chardos said, “and they bring back a friend next year.”

Homeworks has been coming to Johns Island for six years, and Chardos emphasized that “many more houses need to be repaired.”

He also stressed that, “the biggest asset we donate is time,” while materials are given by sponsors as diverse as Home Depot, Kroger, Bi-Lo, Piggly Wiggly, Publix, Southeastern Freight Lines, Morningstar Storage, and PYA Monarch.

However, each volunteer also pays $150 to help buy supplies, such as shingles and lumber.

The Lowcountry work session was the last of four Home Works summer projects, with blitzes previously taking place in Chapin and Greenville as well as Boone, N.C., with more than 190 teens and adults volunteering. Plans are even underway for a future work trip to Zorritos, Peru.

At the Greenville project earlier in July, 40 volunteers made repairs to five homes referred to Home Works by the Senior Action Organization and the Southern Side Community Center. A group of 11 teens and adults even traveled from Fayetteville, N.C., to take part in the effort.

“Adults have responsibility to help teens put faith into action,” said Chardos. “Clearly they are influenced the rest of their lives. Kids embrace this.”