June 21 – WEST MIDDLESEX – A group of young people worked quickly and efficiently throughout the DuMars house last Thursday, doing odd jobs such as cleaning the wooden railings, painting the window frames and caulking the bathroom .
Although they have lived in their West Middlesex home for around 35 years, Cheryl and Peter DuMars are disabled and cannot carry out most of these repairs themselves.
Fortunately, help came in the form of the Catholic HEART labor camp, which brought in a group of teenagers to fix the DuMars’ home last week.
“They’ve been wonderful,” Cheryl said. “They work very well, they are quick and they are always friendly.”
The Catholic HEART Work Camp is a national youth organization founded in 1993 and operates by sending groups of students and chaperones on work assignments for about a week each summer, said Mary Blythe, camp leader at the organisation.
This summer, the labor camp sent about 140 students and about 40 chaperones to the Mercer County area, with the organization members staying in the West Middlesex Area School District.
During their four days of work, Blythe said the students worked on a variety of projects throughout the community, including outdoor projects like repairing a chicken coop or cleaning up playpens to indoor projects, like repairing residents’ homes.
“We tell people we can do light, DIY jobs,” Blythe said. “It’s amazing what a team of people can do in four days.”
The DuMars said they discovered the labor camp through information provided by West Middlesex borough officials. Since the labor camp was coming to the area, the DuMars requested that their home be part of the camp’s plans for 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the program for a few years, but it resumed work and students arrived at the DuMars’ home last week.
Among the students were Kaedyn Goodrun, 14, and Julie Miguel, 13, both of Hoopeston, Illinois. Although this is their first mission trip, Goodrun and Miguel have been involved with the organization for about nine months.
Miguel wanted to join the journey because her brother passed away last year, and she was looking for a way to give back after the community came together to help her family. Goodrun meanwhile learned about the trip while attending another fundraiser and also wanted to join the trip.
Compared to their hometown of Hoopeston, Miguel and Goodrun said the Mercer County area has “taller buildings” and the landscape isn’t as flat.
Goodrun said it was rewarding to help and support residents like the DuMars.
“You help a lot of people, and you can make someone’s day, week, or even year happier,” Goodrun said.
Miguel added that it was also rewarding to talk and build rapport with the couple.
“We met a lot of new people and you really grow as a person,” Miguel said.
If HEART Catholic Labor Camp ever returns to the area, Cheryl recommended that all residents in need apply for the program based on her experience with teenagers.
“I said to them, ‘I wish they could stay!'” Cheryl said.
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