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St. Patrick, Fayetteville, Hosts Youth Service Program

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This week, over 90 teens and 22 adults from North and South Carolina converged on St. Patrick Parish in Fayetteville to serve Fayetteville residents with homes in serious need of repair. They were part of a South Carolina-based ecumenical program called Home Works, founded in 1996 to repair homes of homeowners in need, assist youth in their development, and empower communities to meet the needs of their members.

St. Patrick has hosted Home Works for the 10 years that the program has come to Fayetteville. The teens spend the nights on inflatable mattresses in the St. Patrick Family Life Center, and volunteers from the parish cook all their meals.

According to Vince Mescall, Youth Ministry Director at St. Patrick, over 85 percent of the group this year are Catholic. Approximately half of the youth are members of St. Patrick Parish. Other churches represented this year were Immaculate Conception, Wilmington, NC; Saint Philip Neri, Fort Mill, SC; Saint Ann, Rock Hill, SC; Bethany Lutheran, Lexington, SC; and All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cary, NC. Friends and relatives who attend with these participants and adult volunteers who teach and supervise the teens represent a variety of denominations.

On a hot Wednesday morning, six teens and two adults were restoring the roof and window trim and painting the security grille on a home next to the railroad tracks.

Most of the youth have participated in Home Works before. Danielle Lenti, of St. Ann Church, said she looked forward to the week each year -- this is her third -- as a time to meet friends and to be able to make a difference for the homeowners the program serves. “They are so thankful, it really makes you want to come back,” she said.

Mackenzie O’Connell of Immaculate Conception Parish in Wilmington was participating for her second year. “It’s really fun, meeting new people, and at the same time you’re helping the homeowners, being able to make them happy.”

Home Works has a spiritual as well as a practical side. Ryan Thomas, of St. Patrick, explained that the teens begin each day by praying with the homeowner.

Haley Erickson, also of St. Patrick, summed up what seemed to be the common sentiment: “It’s the best week of my summer!”

Above: A Home Works team at work repairing a house in Fayetteville.

Above: Team members (left to right) Danielle Lenti, Haley Erickson, Joseph Maldonado and Ryan Thomas paint a wrought iron grille.

Above: Team members Francesca Haugh (left) and Mackenzie O'Connell put down a chalk line.