A youth mission group from Fleetwood, Pennsylvania has found a home away from home taking up temporary residency at Wiscasset’s First Congregational Church. During their stay, members of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ have been volunteering for the Bath Housing Authority and Stepping Stones in Damariscotta.
Thursday morning, July 12 found 20 or so high school and middle school age students at work with their chaperones on three different homes on Middle Street in Bath. Jenn Hoffman, a counselor and chaperone, said their projects have included replacing front and back porches, installing steps, hanging doors and even some minor landscaping.
“We’ve replaced a lot of older, rotten wood with vinyl and plastic materials,” she explained as she stopped to offer her teenage daughter help in the safe use of a circular saw. Hoffman has a teenage son volunteering as well.
The group has also done some interior painting at the Dikes Landing housing facility, also in Bath. All of the properties are affiliated with the Bath Housing Authority, said Hoffman, adding, the housing authority is providing the materials needed for the repairs.
The Rev. John Folk of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ said the members brought their own tools carrying them in a small box trailer on loan from a parishioner. His added they raised funds for a van rental, meals, gasoline and other expenses. It took nine hours to carpool to Maine.
“Fleetwood is a small town about halfway between Reading and Allentown,” he said. Its population of a little over 4,000 is about the same as Wiscasset’s.
St. Paul’s has made a number of youth mission trips to Maine, several in the Orland area. “This past week we had a small group of college-age volunteers who worked with Stepping Stones in Damariscotta.” The youth program, Rev. Folk continued, is more than just repairing homes. “It's very much about sharing our faith. We start every morning with a prayer and end the day with Bible study in the evening.”
It hasn’t been all work and no play. The group took time off to visit Reid State Park, spent an afternoon in Boothbay Harbor and enjoyed both visits very much. “Most of the kids will be returning home with a sweatshirt that says Boothbay Harbor on it,” he added.
Folk said he’s very thankful to the Rev. Josh Fitterling of Wiscasset’s First Congregational Church and his congregation. “They’ve been very kind and generous to us. We also want to thank the town of Wiscasset for allowing us to use the shower facilities at their wonderful community center.”
Fitterling and Folk have known each other many years. They attended Lancaster Theological Seminary together.
The youth group and their chaperones planned to be gathering that night for a dinner hosted by Kathy Martin-Savage of Wiscasset.
“So many folks at the church have just shown such wonderful hospitality and we couldn't be more delighted to support this trip by offering them a place to stay,” Fitterling told the Wiscasset Newspaper.
Folk said he hopes to someday return the favor by hosting a group of volunteers from Wiscasset. “Our doors are always open,” he said.