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Buckhead church service project helps homeowners in need
by Nicole Dow
July 23, 2014 09:32 AM | 1124 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Michael Willis, 19, talks with volunteer Andrew Aiken about the Metro Atlanta Project for which the group is building a wheelchair ramp at a southwest Atlanta home.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Michael Willis, 19, talks with volunteer Andrew Aiken about the Metro Atlanta Project for which the group is building a wheelchair ramp at a southwest Atlanta home.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Westminster freshmen Ella Collier, 14, daughter of Linda and Richard Collier of Buckhead, and Abi Abegaz, 14, daughter of Rahel Alemu and Abegaz Melakehiwot of Marietta, mix cement which will be used to hold the posts for the wheelchair ramp in place.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Westminster freshmen Ella Collier, 14, daughter of Linda and Richard Collier of Buckhead, and Abi Abegaz, 14, daughter of Rahel Alemu and Abegaz Melakehiwot of Marietta, mix cement which will be used to hold the posts for the wheelchair ramp in place.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / A. Ballard Leake, 15, son of Caroline and Boyd Leake of Buckhead, widens a hole in the ground for a support post for the wheelchair ramp.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / A. Ballard Leake, 15, son of Caroline and Boyd Leake of Buckhead, widens a hole in the ground for a support post for the wheelchair ramp.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Student and adult volunteers work on a wheelchair ramp as part of the Metro Atlanta Project organized by Northside United Methodist Church.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Student and adult volunteers work on a wheelchair ramp as part of the Metro Atlanta Project organized by Northside United Methodist Church.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Pace Academy eighth grader Leah Mautner, 13, daughter of Becky and Ken Mautner of Buckhead, paints the bathroom wall in the home of a disabled veteran as part of the Metro Atlanta Project. Volunteers made a few home repairs inside along with the major project of building a wheelchair ramp in front of the home.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Pace Academy eighth grader Leah Mautner, 13, daughter of Becky and Ken Mautner of Buckhead, paints the bathroom wall in the home of a disabled veteran as part of the Metro Atlanta Project. Volunteers made a few home repairs inside along with the major project of building a wheelchair ramp in front of the home.
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While others were spending their summer vacations at the pool or hanging out with friends, over 180 middle and high school students spent July 11 through 17 renovating homes in need of repair as part of Northside United Methodist Church’s Metro Atlanta Project.

“They have been so selflessly giving of their time and putting in their full effort to really help improve someone’s livelihood,” said Anne Kramer, a middle school associate at the Buckhead church.

She said the students — rising seventh-graders through rising college freshmen — represent several area schools, including Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, The Lovett School, Mount Pisgah Christian School, North Atlanta High School, Pace Academy, The Westminster Schools and Whitefield Academy. The church’s program has been in operation since 1999. This year’s project included making repairs to 18 homes throughout metro Atlanta.

“They’ve been doing everything from laying kitchen floors to [installing] drywall to replacing rotting wood on the outside of houses, even mowing lawns and ripping out mini-jungles,” Kramer said.

One of the homes students worked on belongs to the Collins family in southwest Atlanta. Volunteers painted, did yard work, fixed cracks in the walls and built a handicap-accessible ramp leading up to the front door.

Homeowner Veronica Collins, 70, said her husband William, 64, suffered a major stroke in 2007 and has been in a wheelchair, but they’ve never had a ramp. She has had to lift her husband’s wheelchair to get him up the front steps.

“I really needed this ramp,” said Collins, who has lived in the home for 38 years. “This is the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

She said she and her husband are appreciative of the assistance and she was impressed by the students’ efforts.

“They worked diligently,” Collins said. “They’re just awesome kids. Their parents should be very proud. I have never seen kids so mannerable.”

Volunteer Ella Collier, a 14-year-old rising freshman at Westminster, said it is rewarding to do something that makes an impact on others. This is her second year participating in the project.

“We live in Buckhead … and it’s so eye-opening to realize I take so much for granted,” she said. “I’m really glad to be doing this. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

Madeline Arenth, a 13-year-old rising eighth-grader at Pace, said she participated in the program for a second consecutive year for an important reason.

“It’s to make someone else feel good — not to benefit for myself but to help someone else,” she said.

Michael Willis, a 2014 Westminster graduate and rising freshman at the University of Georgia, has been a part of the service project for four years.

“It means a lot,” he said. “At the end of the week it’s real rewarding, because we’re able to actually see the finished work.”

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