World Changers repair program coming to Oxford
by Sherry Kughn
May 04, 2012 | 4220 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD — World Changers, a missionary program of the Southern Baptist Convention, assisted Eddie Mae Ball of Oxford a couple of years ago by renovating her home. They painted her porch and house, and they installed a few doors.

“They were real nice,” said Ms. Ball, “but they put a hood over my stove that is leaking. Now, I need to have my roof fixed.”

Eleven teams of college-age youths from throughout the Southeast will come to Calhoun County for the 11th straight year from July 16 through July 21. They will help local homeowners with small renovation projects if they meet the income criteria.

Oxford residents have until May 24 to complete and turn in their applications to receive the assistance, which is free. Forms are available at the city clerk’s office at Oxford City Hall.

Oxford, as it has done in the past, will pay for the building supplies. This year’s cost, which will come out of the regular city budget, will be between $10,000 and $20,000.



Locally, World Changers is hosted by the Calhoun Baptist Association. Since 2011, the 22-year-old nationwide program has involved 19,040 participants and 190 college-age youths and has collected for its projects $105,865, according to Facebook page.

“The ideal project,” said John Thomas, project coordinator for the local World Changers, “would be scraping paint, repainting, replacing doors and windows, building ramps for the handicapped or applying vinyl siding.”

The project exists, not just to aid homeowners, but to give college students experience in the mission field.

“The students come and think they are going to be a blessing to someone,” said Thomas, “but it ends up that they are the ones getting a blessing.”

He described how students often befriend the homeowners, many of whom are elderly, often taking on small extra projects, such as mowing grass or planting flowers.

“A lot of friendships have developed through this program,” said Thomas. “Often, the students will come back and visit the family they helped when they are on vacations, or they will mail or email the family.”

Thomas has been heading up World Changers projects for many years, 10 of them in Calhoun County. The group’s headquarters is in Nashville, Tenn., and the project is affiliated with LifeWay publishers and bookstores.

Each annual project takes about a year of planning, and two others assist Thomas with the logistics – Janice Scheitlin, associational coordinator; and Randy Fortune, construction coordinator.

Scheitlin’s job is to enlist the help of local churches and charitable groups to feed the workers a meal each day, and Fortune’s job is to create the material lists and decide what can be done. Sometimes, the construction projects are outside the scope of what the crews can do, and the project will be declined.

Local youths will also help feed the visitors, and they will attend evening worship services with the visitors. These services will be at Greenbrier Baptist Church this year. The youths will bunk down each night, too, at the church.

“I love this project,” Thomas said. “I look forward to it every year.”

Each of the visiting youths will pay $260 to participate in the week’s work, which will pay for some of the meals, a T-shirt, lodging, work aprons and other items. In addition to the youths’ coming, World Changes will send a staff of four to assist with paperwork, videotaping the workers and other incidental tasks.

Another Oxford resident, Georgia Jackson, said she appreciated the work done to her home, which involved repairs to her roof and the house’s siding.

“I don’t know what I would have done back then without them,” she said.

Those wishing to have their homes renovated should go by the city clerk’s office or call 256-835-6100.

Those wishing to contribute to the local World Changers project may write a check made to the Calhoun Baptist Association and mail it to 1130 Woodstock Ave., Anniston, AL, 36207. To learn more about World Changers, visit www.lifeway.com/worldchangers.

Call Sherry at 256-235-3548 or email to skughn@oxfordsun.com.
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