Each summer from May to September, hundreds of volunteers make their way to Downeast Maine, and in just one week they make a lasting impact on the community members. These volunteers are part of the Mission’s Housing Improvement program and every year, they repair dozens of homes. In 2023, 112 volunteers completed 35 projects on homes throughout the Mission’s service area.
The Mission is now accepting volunteer groups for the 2024 season. Housing Improvement Program Director Jennifer Kempthorne shares, “Volunteers make this program possible. Their support and commitment to the program allow us to focus our resources into repairing more homes.”
William Mennell has been coming to volunteer with Mission for three years with his church group. The group includes a mix of adults and teens, and William explains while people might be unsure if they can help without knowing much about building, anyone can make an impact. “You do not have to be a ‘weekend warrior’ or even handy. You do not have to be an expert,” he says. “There is always a leader you can look to.” With the teens he volunteers with, they often show them how to do a piece of the project and then let them go to work, providing guidance when needed. He adds the Mission always provides support and there is always a Mission staff member on hand at each site.
Jennifer pairs volunteers with projects that fit their skill sets with many properties having multiple needs. This means everyone has a role and task for the day and throughout the week. Volunteers with more building experience can tackle larger projects like building ramps or replacing doors, while other volunteers can work on mudding or painting.
William says he has continued to volunteer at the Mission and in Downeast Maine because the group sees the impact they are having on the community. There are often multiple groups volunteering at the same time which is “great for the kids to interact with and learn from each other.”
The Mission is now accepting applications for the Housing Improvement program. Interested groups can reach out to Jennifer.