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Church group seeks projects, helpers

Pastor Brian Sandell stands outside the Second Avenue United Methodist Church on Thursday, where he had just cleared a patch of weeds. Sandell is a member of the church’s Altoona District of Volunteers in Mission team. Mirror photo by William Kibler

The local chapter of an organization affiliated with the United Methodist Church is recruiting workers and projects so it can provide a week’s worth of home repair help for needy local residents in June.

The Altoona District Volunteers in Mission team is looking for people willing to paint and do light carpentry work on small exterior projects, and it’s looking for homeowners who need those projects done, but who lack the means, according to Joy Shields, a VIM team leader.

Potential workers and beneficiaries can contact Pastor Brian Sandell at Second Avenue United Methodist Church, 130 Second Ave., Altoona, PA 16602, by June 1 for the effort — which will take place June 21-25, according to Shields.

Shields attended a meeting at City Hall recently at the offices of the Department of Community Development on the city’s proposed Housing and Urban Development-funded projects for next fiscal year, but learned that a ramp she proposed for funding wasn’t on the department’s list.

The prospective beneficiary of the ramp had found another organization to help, anyway, Shields said.

Shields also learned that the city’s project list for this year was complete.

So far, Blair Senior Services has identified some yard work projects for the group, she said.

The Nehemiah Project is also on the lookout for jobs that some of its clients might need to have done, she said.

The Department of Codes and Inspections tried to help, but the projects it suggested were for rental properties, and her group doesn’t work on rentals, Shields said.

In addition to painting and yard work, the group is interested in tasks like porch and first-floor gutter repairs, she said.

It doesn’t want to take on roof work or the siding of whole houses, she said.

It needs willing people, including those with skills, she said.

Ultimately, what gets done will depend on how many suitable projects the group can identify, how many volunteers come forward to complement those already committed and the skill levels of the workers involved, according to Shields.

“We’ll review what we can and can’t do,” she said.

VIM is “a grassroots movement within the United Methodist Church designed to provide an official channel for volunteer service,” according to the VIM website.

“The UMVIM network offers guidance, organization and training for more than 125,000 volunteers each year, who give of their time and talent to minister with the poor, build churches and other mission facilities, assist in disaster recovery efforts, participate in community health programs and take part in leadership training events,” the website states.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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