The vibrancy and enthusiasm of youth is not always wasted on the young. Recently, we have taken note of several young people in Chester County committing themselves to working among their community and those miles from the comfort of their homes to help homeowners upgrade the circumstances of their lives. The dedication and verve the participants showed in ever case is a remarkable statement, and we applaud them for their efforts.
In June, members of the Young Friends of the Downingtown Friends Meetings travelled to the coal country of southwestern West Virginia to help Big Creek People in Action, an organization that helps refurbish homes in and around Caretta, W. Va. The seven youths who participated spent a week helping put in new outdoor stairs, painting and rehabbing a single family home in War, W. Va., and helping install a new back porch, along with learning about the coal community in McDowell County, W. Va. Their trip was part of a regular service project the Meeting’s teenagers make as part of their religious education program.
Last week, other young volunteers helped rehab five homes in southern Chester County. On Thursday, as temperatures soared into the high 90s, high school students from six different youth groups joined Good Neighbors Home Repair for its annual summer project. At the sites in the Kennett Square-Avondale-Oxford area, the volunteers sawed, spackled, hammered and painted sections of homes that had fallen into disrepair and whose owners were not able to fix them.
One house that received the attention of Good Neighbors and the youth group from the Avondale Presbyterian Church was the 63-year home of Thomasene Bove, a 1947 graduate of Kennett High School who moved into the place on Ellicott Road in Avondale in 1950 shortly after she married her husband. Originally it was a garage to house the inventory he sold as part of his used car business, but he added on an adjacent structure in which the couple lived. Through the years that home addition has deteriorated around Mrs. Bove. “It was in need of repairs,” she said, explaining that the windows were rotted shut and the roof was leaking.
Sara Rosazza, who is in her sixth year of volunteering, is now an adult supervisor and a freshman in college. By Thursday, she was pleased with what the group had accomplished. “I just love helping people, talking to home owners and learning things,” she said. Rosazza added that during the beginning of a project, “We come in and it seems impossible.”
At another location, homeowner and single mom Rachael Starkey of Avondale turned to Good Neighbors when the repairs at her house got too far out of hand — like a faulty sump pump that flooded a basement. “It was scary to even go down there before that,” she said. “It was creepy and there was only one bulb.” By the time Good Neighbors finishes their work, however, Starkey and her two children will have a finished basement with new walls and no mold or mildew, as well as numerous other repairs to the interior and exterior of the home.
We know that our fellow citizens take their volunteering seriously, and have contributed countless hours to making things better for the community. We hope the spirit of activism so prevalent in these two groups of young people will last for years to come.