Fixing Up 60 Homes in 5 Days

Teens from across the country work on week-long service project to help needy families

Patricia Flowers has had a difficult few years. In 2006, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, she lost her job at Foxwoods. That wasn't the end of her troubles.

"My furnace went. As you can see, I had problems with my septic tank. I couldn't catch up right away. When it rains it pours," she said.

Then, Flowers heard that the Group Workcamp Foundation, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization, was coming to southeastern Connecticut in July and she decided to apply for help. 

The program accepts applications from disadvantaged, handicapped and elderly residents in southeastern Connecticut who need minor house repairs, ranging from wheelchair ramps to painting.

Flowers, along with 60 other homeowners in New London County, was accepted into the program. The week-long service project is co-sponsored by local churches across the country who send dozens of teens from youth groups to work on homes. The teens working on Flowers' home are from as close as New Jersey and as far away as North Carolina.

They don't know one another when they arrive at a project site, but when they leave, they do so as lifelong friends.

Behind Flowers' Uncasville home, Melanie Lucash used a circular saw for the first time Monday.

"I was scared at first," she said.

After some coaching, she made four near perfect cuts on a support beam to be used to shore up a dilapidated deck.

"Everyone here has got your back. It's a learning experience for all of us," she said.

Michael Tedeschi, from Concord, North Carolina, spent Monday morning fixing the trim around Flower's front door. This is his second trip with Group Workcamp.

"You get to experience things you ordinarily otherwise wouldn't, like going to help someone and make their lives a little bit better," he said.

Group Workcamp will be in New London County through Friday and Flowers said she can't begin to thank the teens enough for working on her home.

 "They're good people and great kids and they're willing to help. Not too many people are doing that, so that's a good feeling," Flowers said.

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