Youth group returns for fifth year

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 09:55 AM

“Grandpa,” a young person from on top of a house called out to John Balmer standing on the ground at an Ellenboro home Wednesday afternoon.

Young people from the Community Bible Church in Palmyra, Pa., and their leader, “Grandpa” Balmer, were roofing the house belonging to Nathan Gallman of Lake Davis Road.

Balmer, who described himself as the “oldest man here” instructed the youth as they cut shingles and nailed them on the roof.

This summer makes the fifth consecutive year the volunteer group from Palmyra has come to Rutherford County.

With direction and leadership of the Rutherford Housing Partnership (RHP) the groups are given projects every summer that have been on the RHP waiting list. 

This year’s projects included the roofing job, constructing a porch, building a walkway and a ramp, Balmer said.

“We feel that we need to give a blessing to other people,” Balmer said of the group’s fifth year working in the county. “And if this is where it is, we’re glad.”

Balmer said it is easy to select Rutherford County for the church mission projects because of the help and kindness of RHP’s leader Nell Bovender, and the staff.

Once the team arrives in the county, RHP has the projects identified and the materials ready for the workers.

“Well finish all these projects,” Balmer said Wednesday afternoon. 

Five or six of the youth have been on every mission trip to Rutherford County, Bovender said.

“They told me last night it always surprises them to see how some people live in Rutherford County,” Bovender said.

Bovender said the looks on the faces of the young people — when a property is completed — tells the whole story of what the work means to each of them.

“We are making a difference in people’s lives and this is very personal to this group,” Bovender said. “What we’re giving is meaningful.”

Gallman said his roof has been leaking for a long time and he is glad to have the problem solved.

Today the 20 youth and eight adult leaders are spending the day at Lake Lure. “We try to take one day off,” Balmer said. “They love it there and always have so much fun.”

Thursday night’s outing was to The Beacon in Spartanburg, another favorite of the group during their visits here.

While working here this week, the group was housed at the Cutural Training Center in Union Mills.