STEPHEN HEMELT — Church youth group performing summer service in Orange

Published 12:26 am Saturday, July 2, 2022

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It was an amazing sight to see firsthand just two weeks ago in Jefferson County, and now something similar is coming to Orange in July.

From June 21-24, approximately 150 students and sponsors from churches around Texas volunteered in Nederland, Beaumont and Port Arthur to perform repairs and recovery work on homes impacted by Hurricane Harvey and other disasters.

That event was sponsored by BOUNCE Student Disaster Recovery.

At the time, BOUNCE Director David Scott said his organization and volunteers were delighted to be in Nederland partnering with Orange County Disaster Recovery to assist with recovery efforts from the various storms.

“I’m also pleased we’ve had a great response from the participating student ministries that are here to serve,” he said on the eve of the event. “It’s our hope to not only repair homes, but also restore Hope among the victims who have been affected.”

The students and sponsors were housed at First Baptist Church Nederland.

The daughter of a woman helped in Port Arthur summed up the impact perfectly.

“My mom has been living in this house ever since Harvey, so she’s been living like this — no floors, half the walls taken out, almost kind of like a shell of a house,” Julia Evers said.

“There was a lot of damage on the house, but also emotionally. It’s great to see these kids come in and just help out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s very inspiring. They’re good, hard workers and they just don’t stop.”

Help for Southeast Texas continues.

Armed with hammers and paintbrushes, workers with a mission will descend on Greater Orange as part of United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth (U.M. ARMY).

Organizer Nathan Hodge told Orange Newsmedia the group will be in the area July 10-16.

According to Hodge, the group includes high school-age volunteers and accompanying adults each paying $250 to spend a week helping those unable to help themselves.

“They will be busy with wheelchair ramps, handrails, porch work, painting, minor roof repairs and much more,” he said. “Referrals for work to be completed are given to U.M. ARMY by state agencies, local churches and community organizations.”

The effort boasts more than 4,000 participants composing U.M. ARMY’s 2022 summer in close to 50 cities.

The goal is to help an estimated 1,500 needy families.

Among the many recognitions earned by U.M. ARMY for its 44 years of service, according to Hodge, are a volunteerism award from the Texas Department of Human Services and two runner-up Governor’s Awards.

While in the Orange, participants will stay at First United Methodist Church.

They prepare their own meals, bring their own tools and purchase their own materials for a week of work that begins at 5:30 a.m. for those on the breakfast crew and ends with a worship time each night.

“The camp will include high school students who have completed their ninth grade year and adults from Texas United Methodist Churches in Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Cypress and Santa Fe,” Hodge said.

A handout is always helpful to those in dire need. A hand up can sometimes be even more impactful to those in similar situations, because it acts as a springboard for growth.

Remove a person’s obstacle, then their path to sustainable success is all the more clear.

It’s obvious the volunteers of U.M. ARMY come from an infrastructure of effective of community service. We are very fortunate they have chosen our community to make an impact.

We wish them good luck in their efforts.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher at Orange Newsmedia, which produces the Orange Leader and He can be reached at