Teenagers put themselves last for a week of helping others in Newberry County.
Salkehatchie Summer Service is happening this week and 10 homes across the county will get a boost and revitalization thanks to some selfless teens and adult volunteers.
The summer camp happens the entire summer through the S.C. United Methodist Conference and this week in July is Newberry’s shout of service to the community.
This year is slightly larger according to Joyce Barrow who directs the camp along with her husband, Steve Barrow.
She says that there are about 34 adult volunteers and 85 teenagers who are at least 14 years old, which is the minimum age.
Barrow actually says that this year they have a lot of younger teens around 14 and 15 who were eager to jump on board many times because of their brothers and sisters.
Teenagers come together from all across the county and even outside the county as some wish to venture outside their town.
As for the homes, there are five in the city limits of Newberry, one in Prosperity and four in Whitmire, according to Barrow.
While there is plenty of labor that goes on during the day, there are also plenty of chances for fun and conversation.
Each morning, the group comes to the home and has a daily devotion. The homeowners and more than welcome to participate.
Towards the end of the day, the campers gather back at the host church, Central United Methodist in downtown Newberry. They shower after a hard day’s work, eat and talk and form friendships or continue existing ones.
There’s plenty of fun as the teens and volunteers have praise and worship and a fun Wednesday as well as a closing program on Friday.
While the girls spend the night at Central, the guys head over to Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
Redeemer is not the only church and organization to help out. Barrow points out that the community really helps out and comes together.
She mentions Lewis U.M.C. serving breakfast each morning while other churches around Whitmire and Newberry donate food.
Barrow says that the community support all contributes to the little pieces of the puzzle helping to make Salkehatchie successful.
Barrow says that many of the youth say that their summer is not over until they’ve completed Salkehatchie.
Loving one’s neighbors
The definition of neighbor is lived out through the hands and hearts of these youth.
“He said, ‘That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.’” is listed under the why section of the Salkehatchie website.
One neighbor that the campers assisted was Eddie Koon Sr.
Koon describes what the workers are doing as a beautiful thing and calls out the young men and women as his brothers and sisters.
In fact, Koon participates in the devotions with the group each morning and loves to talk with the workers.
The workers are putting in a wheelchair ramp, remodeling the porch and fixing the bathrooms.
Koon says, “If it weren’t for them (building the ramp), I don’t know what I’d do.”
Koon enjoys sharing stories with the workers and when it comes to his faith, he is quite open.
“My love’s desire when I pray is to ask for God’s understanding and desire,” he says.
Koon lives with his daughter, Nettie Koon and her son. His wife passed away this month but her memory and influence lives strong as Nettie Koon says that she and her family live by what she taught them.
Nettie Koon says that her mom would often say that you get mad, you pray about it and move on.
In fact, she is quite thankful for the ramp that they workers are constructing as she says her mom always wanted a ramp.
For more information about Salkehatchie, visit www.salkehatchie.org.