That John Denver song always conjures up a warm spot in my heart. It reminds me of the trip to little Fairmont, WV that I've been a part of for 7 of the past 9 years. My church in Richmond joins churches from around the country for a week of helping out widows and elderly by doing various construction jobs on their homes.
Fairmont is a poor, old coal mining town and lots of women have lost their husbands in mining accidents. Many of them don't have the physical or financial means to keep their homes from getting into the state of disrepair that most of them end up being in. The construction jobs are the vehicle that allow us to do what we feel is the most important work: loving these forgotten and sometimes lonely people.
Scotland is a long way from West Virginia, so we didn't think we'd be able to make the trip this year. But we talked up the trip to our friends here and they showed an interest in going, so miraculously, we went this year! We led a group of 7; 5 teenagers and 2 adults. July 16th was our departure date from Scotland, July 19th-26th were the dates we spent in Fairmont, and the July 27th-August 4th we spent in and around Richmond enjoying the sites and the fabulous weather.
Here's a taste of what traveling to America, and the week in Fairmont was like:
Waiting to leave Edinburgh, Scotland with our "Dornoch Crew"
Lounging in Paris on our layover
It's a long flight
The team (Richmond+Scotland), preparing to depart Richmond for Fairmont
This is part of the camp where we sleep and eat
We had 3 worksites, so our team of 50 was subdivided.
One of the jobs this team had was tearing down an already falling apart porch and rebuilding it
James led another team. They had lots of work to keep them busy
That's the homeowner in the middle
A before and after of a portion of the basement they made water tight and more usable
Do what James says...or else!
The porch roof: before
The porch roof: during
The porch roof: after
I was on the third team led by my dad. That's our hostess next to me
At her house we did some roofing, landscaping, painting and put in a handrail for her.
There was a fourth team who specialized in visiting with families who've hosted us and allowed us to work on their homes during the last 8 years. They also visited with some folks in local nursing homes
Mid-week we have a block party at the home of a previous hostess, Doris. Her neighbors are all invited. It's a good time, yummy food, lots of singing.
In past trips to Fairmont, we painted Doris' house for her
An example of some of the singing and silly dancing
Saying goodbye to some of our hostesses
One last group shot before the end of another week in Fairmont, WV.