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Published: Wednesday, 6/13/2007

Volunteer teams converge on Toledo, make free repairs

BY ALI SEITZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Volunteers Danielle Feeney, Emily Selio, Kody Letterle, and Paul Nagy, from left, keep their paint brushes busy at the back of a home on Kevin Place as part of the Catholic Heart Workcamp efforts. Volunteers Danielle Feeney, Emily Selio, Kody Letterle, and Paul Nagy, from left, keep their paint brushes busy at the back of a home on Kevin Place as part of the Catholic Heart Workcamp efforts.
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Tonya Cason's house on Kevin Place, about a block from Cherry Street and Central Avenue, was in desperate need of a paint job.

"I didn't know how I was going to get it done, but I was going to try," she said.

So when a group of people stopped by her house one afternoon and gave her a flyer advertising small, free renovations, she filled out the application and sent it in.

This week, she and a perspiring, spattered group of volunteers from the Catholic HEART Workcamp are hard at work scraping, priming, and repainting the outside of her house.

Thanks to the volunteers, Chaney Taylor will have a new patio in her backyard.
Thanks to the volunteers, Chaney Taylor will have a new patio in her backyard.
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"We're making it brand new," volunteer Red Nagy said.

Volunteers from the camp are laboring at 47 different sites around Toledo this week, repainting, building ramps for disabled residents, building wooden stairs, and working on other small projects.

If a group finishes early, they will begin new work on an additional site.

Most of the volunteers are young people, about 13 to 17 years old from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio. They came with their Catholic youth groups and schools in groups as small as five or as large as 50. All the volunteers stay together at Cardinal Stritch High in Oregon.

Volunteer Kathy Hussey fi nds she has a little extra responsibility as she wipes some stray paint spots off Damarion Cason, 4, who was visiting his grandmother on Kevin Place.
Volunteer Kathy Hussey fi nds she has a little extra responsibility as she wipes some stray paint spots off Damarion Cason, 4, who was visiting his grandmother on Kevin Place.
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"You meet tons of people," Mandy Korponay, a teenager from Atlanta, said.

The camp was founded in 1993 by Steve and Lisa Walker, of Orlando, Fla. After participating in nondenominational work camps, they wanted to start a camp that included their Catholic faith. The first was held in Orlando, with about 100 volunteers.

This summer, Catholic HEART Workcamp volunteers will staff 36 camps across the United States and in Jamaica and Trinidad. There are camps every week between June 3 and Aug. 4.

The camp in Toledo, called the Glass City Workcamp, partnered with the Birmingham Development Corp., the East Toledo Family Center, the Assumption Outreach Center, and Neighborhoods in Partnership to find the homes that needed help.

The camp has worked with three of the organizations in the past, but this is the first year the camp has worked with Neighborhoods in Partnership to reach the areas around the Old West End, like Kevin Place.

Katie Cornell, the manager of the Toledo camp, hopes to partner with even more organizations next year.

This year alone, the 300 volunteers will give about 6,000 hours of labor.

"It's mind-boggling the amount of work that gets done," Ms. Cornell said.

But the camp still affords time for fun.

Sally Litterly, an adult supervisor whose 450-person hometown of Elkhart, Ill., boasts 30 volunteers, was busy yesterday planning a water balloon fight between the Kevin Place groups to break up the hot workday.

"Meet in the street," she told the others.

Contact Ali Seitz at:

aseitz@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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