Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 25, 2013

HAPPY CAMPERS

BY BILL WOLCOTT bill.wolcott@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Reach Workcamp, which drew more than 1,000 volunteers to Eastern Niagara County over the past two weeks, is planning a return visit in 2015, according the Neil Fisher, Development Director.

The Colorada-based Christian faith organization has completed projects on 75 homes in the area, working out of Newfane Central School.

”We have really enjoyed it here,” said Fisher who is temporarily headquartered at the school where the volunteers are billeted. “The Newfane School District has been amazing and the community supporting. We’ve had a great time the past two weeks.”

The Newfane School District cafeteria crew provides the meals, while area churches donate cookies and snacks for the teams of teenagers.

Dan Costello of Lockport is the community captain and has been planning for this year’s workcamp for two years.

Reach Workcamp representatives have already spoken with Newfane school and community leaders about returning in two years and Costello is making it a reality. 

”We plan coming to come back and do a double week,” said Costello. Workcamps of one week can complete 35-40 projects, twice that many can be done in two sessions.

”It’s going really well,” Costello said. “We’ve been blessed with the weather. When it’s rained, we were in good shape and not in panic mode.”

Although some of the campers suffered from heat exhaustion last week, projects progessed, according to Costello. Work is scheduled to be wrapped up Friday by 5 p.m. and the campers will leave on Saturday.

“It’s encouraging to watch teens be so motivated. They don’t want to leave project and want to get it done,”  said Costello who has been working and talking with them. 

Two teams of seven, who have worked on panelling and painting this week on Locust Street, are putting in a wheelchair ramp and expect to finish the projects on Friday.

”It’s really exciting. It’s cool to see people coming in from everywhere,” said Alyson Fair, 17, who is working with a group from three Pennsylvania United Church of Christ parishes. “It’s people not only serving in their community, but coming from other communities. 

Alyson worked in West Virginia last year and still maintains contact with that team of volunteers. Working on a wheelchair ramp is new to her.

Brad Hilleary of Muskegon, Mich. is a longtime volunteer and he guiding the group which is working on Maria’s house on Locust Street, adding a new front porch.

This time next year Workcamp applications for 2015 will be available through the Reach Workcamp website reachwc.org and at local local churches and schools.