Over two dozen youth volunteers from Chicago’s Saint Michael Parish are in Charleston, West Virginia this week to help Habitat for Humanity homebuyers build their future homes. The volunteer group will be in town until Friday, June 15th. They are staying at the bunk quarters at Bream Presbyterian Church. This is the 21st year that the St. Michael’s youth ministry has organized a mission trip to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam.
21 teens and four adults will be working at Habitat’s Charleston construction site at 847 North Hills Drive. Each day, Habitat’s construction supervisor, Bill “Tiny” Hanshaw, will present the group with several job duties such as landscaping, digging and installing drainage ditches, and moving dirt to fill in a homebuyer’s crawl space foundation. The group will be working from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. each day, and then they’ll have the chance to explore Charleston. Nightly activities for the youth group include local dinners, a movie night and a trip to Cato pool. On Friday, the group plans to attend Live on the Levee before returning to Illinois.
Bill Ward and Rose Koch have been organizing and supervising St. Michael annual mission trip for 21 years. Ward says that it’s a very popular event for their church. “We always try to open this up to new kids, but this year we have about a half-dozen returning volunteers, and many of them are siblings,” says Ward.
Over the last two decades, St. Michael’s has sent hundreds of volunteers to Charleston to partner with Habitat for Humanity. The theme for this year’s annual trip is “Faith Can Move Mountains.” St. Michael’s youth ministry says its goal is to be the change that they wish to see in the world, and members of the volunteer group say that this is their chance to put their faith into action.
Mai Martino, an annual youth volunteer says, “I’ve been volunteering for four years now. It’s nice to help other people, and I just fell in love with it and have been coming back every year.”
“The work is manual labor. We’re moving dirt. We’re helping build and we’re having fun. It’s fun work,” says first-time volunteer Ryan Bonini.
St. Michael’s youth ministry held a car wash in May to fund their trip. The group raised almost $900 to fund their week in Charleston. Parents and other members of the church also donated money to fund meals and transportation.