The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 27, 2013

Youth group helps to repair flood damage

Tom Lavis

WINDBER — The youth of Calvary United Methodist Church in Windber are putting their faith into action by volunteering to serve people in need.

The Really Outrageous Christian Kids (ROCK) youth group through United Methodist Volunteers in Mission spent five days in April doing cleanup and repair while in Northumberland County, which was ravaged by floods in September 2011.

The group, led by the Rev. John Snyder, Calvary UMC’s pastor, was on site April 3-7 and working with the Central Susquehanna Operations (CSO) of the Susquehanna United Methodist Conference to help in the Coal Township, Shamokin and Sunbury areas.

All of the youngsters live in Windber and were granted permission by Windber Area School District officials to take a leave from their studies for the trip.

Participating in the mission were Jade Byers, daughter of Rodger and Kathy Byers; Taylor McKee, daughter of Paula and David McKee; Cayci Ings, daughter of Fred Ings; Holly Harlin, daughter of Jim and Helen Harlin; Cameron Banjak-Corle, son of Joelle Banjak and John Corle; and Abbey, Megan and Allie Polash, daughters of Larry and Lorrie Polash.

“Much more than the work we were able to accomplish, we were able to make some new friends and have our faith strengthened by those who have been through such an ordeal,” Snyder said.

“We know many people from Windber and Johnstown can identify with what we saw.”

The group was housed in a building that soon will be a home for unwed mothers operated by CSO.

ROCK adviser Lorrie Polash, who along with her husband, Larry, chaperoned the group, said the students were called upon to do various jobs.

“The flood had a great impact on the region and things are still pretty bad,” Lorrie said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”

The flooding was a result of four straight days of rain delivered by remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. Parts of Northumberland County had received 10 inches of rain that pushed the Susquehanna River to exceed flood levels in Sunbury and elsewhere.

The group first cleaned a basement in the home they were housed. The following day, they helped a homeowner clear debris from a yard before removing ceiling insulation in the basement.

“Special coveralls needed to be worn as well as breathing equipment because of the insulation and mold buildup,” Snyder said.

ROCK also helped homeowner June Wiest of Shamokin off-load nearly 100 sheets of drywall from a delivery truck.

“We were able to carry these back a narrow sidewalk to the back room of the house in 40 minutes,” Snyder said.

The work continued with helping other families to clear sediment from basements and to scrub and treat basement walls.

Prior to the trip, the group raised money and accepted donations from the congregation that helped pay for rental of a 15-passenger van, gas and food.

They also made an $1,100 donation to CSO for other projects.

“We found generous people there who also provided pizza as well as some home-cooked food to show their appreciation,” Snyder said. “We are looking forward to another mission trip and are so thankful for this opportunity.”

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