A group of young volunteers are building their way through Ardmore this week.
Youth Force, a group of volunteers from the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church, spends one week each summer in cities across the state, repairing homes, churches and other buildings that need the help. First United Methodist Church in Ardmore is hosting the group of 154 kids and adults. Co-director Keith King, who has no connection to the Keith King serving as Ardmore’s vice-mayor, said this is the group’s first time in Ardmore.
“Folks with the city of Ardmore started pointing us to a couple of places,” King said.”We probably interviewed 20 to 25 places before we settled on the sites that we’re working on.”
Co-director Scott Rodgers said the group has to choose projects they can fit into the time they have, which can be tricky given the limited window and resources.
“We’re doing the most good we can in a week,” Rodgers said.
Volunteers can join starting in seventh grade and continue until they graduate high school. This year’s batch of Ardmore volunteers come from Duncan, Oklahoma City, Tulsa or even farther away. Students will use the showers at Ardmore High School then return to the church, where they’re staying for the week.
“It’s a partnership and it takes the whole city to do it,” Rodgers said. “We’re working with the city, we’re working with the churches and the school. It takes a lot of people to put this on.”
The group will apply siding, insulation, wheelchair accessible ramps, porches and fences to the homes they’ve chosen. King said many homes they work on also need work done on their roofs.
“If you live in Oklahoma, your roof has storm damage, so we definitely try to help with that” King said. “If your roof is in a certain condition, you can’t even get your house insured.”
Roofing proves more of a challenge. College-age volunteers are the only ones allowed to go on roofs for safety reasons.
“If we can get the roof done right, they can get insurance, they can get other work done on the house, all kinds of things,” King said.
King said the group has been in operation since 1988. Both Rodgers and King said they’ve been with the group since the beginning.
“We were all students when we started Youth Force and now we help lead it,” King said.
“A lot of our folks have been doing this for a long time,” Rodgers said. “People start in seventh grade and by the time they get to 12th grade, they’re pretty darn talented.”
Rodgers said he’s already getting requests for next year from people who’ve seen their crews around town.
The group will hold a dinner with the families they’re helping on Wednesday night.