Love Out Loud summer campers renovate homes for vets

The Love Out Loud student camp has been volunteering at 10 locations around the city fixing up dilapidated houses.

Love Out Loud summer campers renovate homes for vets
July 14
14:40 2021

Love out Loud (LOL) is an organization that connects churches and nonprofit organizations around the city in an effort to help churches thrive and spread the love of Jesus Christ. For their student camp, LOL brought their campers to 10 locations across the Triad to help revitalize dilapidated homes.

“This week for student camp, we have about 100 students from the Winston-Salem area who have come together and go to different sites every day and kind of rotate around,” said Blake Hill, site coordinator for LOL. “There are 10 sites and one of them is here at Bishop Barry Washington’s (Whole Man Ministries) house that he has through one of his programs that he has been going since 2013 called Housing for Heroes, where he provides adequate housing for families of veterans.”

The house the campers were renovating was located on Thurmond Street.  The campers participated in duties such as demolition, painting and carpentry. The students are preparing the house to the point where professionals like electricians, plumbers and HVAC workers can come in and finish the job. The campers range from 6th to 12th grade students.

“This week, primarily we have been painting the exterior, so we primed it first, then they painted it with rollers and then filled in the trim,” Hill said. “A crew of students and an expert came yesterday afternoon and put fascia board up on the top so we can attach the gutters.”

This is the fourth year of the Love out Loud Student Camp. It was started by an idea suggested by Chris Dolon of LOL. Dolon attended a camp in Florida that does something similar and upon returning, he brought the model back with him. With his connections around the city and with LOL, the program just took off from there.

Even with blazing 90-degree temperatures, the campers were all in great spirits and seemed to really enjoy helping out their fellow man. Many have been in the program since its inception and say they plan to continue with it every summer until graduation from high school.

“Chris Dolon has been my youth leader for two years and he helped with this camp a lot, so I decided to do this camp for the past three years,” said 13-year-old middle school student Hudson Brendle. “Really, it’s like something fun to do during the summer and really good to help the community.

“This is so much fun. We have been painting, doing a lot of demolition and cutting fascia boards and stuff like that; I’ve been having tons of fun. It’s very important to give back, because I feel like if you don’t start now, you may never start.  I plan on doing it until I graduate and become a leader.”

Twelve-year-old Payden McLaughlin added, “My parents heard about a program that was supposed to bring you closer to Jesus and just to let you know more about Him and get to do some work around the city by volunteering. I needed some volunteer hours, so I decided this would be a good idea to do.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun. It’s been really nice to get to know some of the people whose houses we were fixing up and just get to know more about them and the chance to visit streets of Winston-Salem that I’ve never been to before. I think it’s important for young people to get involved with programs like this, because it sets the foundation for when they grow up. I’ve had a lot of fun in this camp and it’s been a new experience.”

This is the first year Hill has been a site leader for the student camp and his time there has been great thus far, he said. “There is great satisfaction in knowing that we are doing our part to contribute to the thriving of Winston-Salem and its citizens,” Hill continued. “But also serving together and laughing with these kids, telling jokes and playing games was just really fun.”

Washington was connected with LOL and the camp several years ago through his relationship with Dolon. The campers have worked on several locations for Whole Man Ministries and Washington says he is thankful for the partnership with LOL.

Washington says Dolon asked if he could recruit nine other pastors to visit the various sites around the city to encourage the kids as they volunteer in the summer heat. Washington felt this was very important and reached out to multiple pastors in his circle and made it happen.  

“For two days we came out to visit and our job was basically to give them a pep talk and to close out in prayer,” Washington said.

For all of the hard work the campers put in, Washington says he was impressed with the high quality of work they have done. He says it’s important for young people of this age to have a sense of community and have the willingness to give back to others.

“With social media today, there are no hands-on hands and so a lot of times kids are communicating through social media,” said Washington. “But when you can get a peer group of kids here on one site and they all are working, it produces so many different gifts in those kids: one, collaboration; two, team building; and three, a sense of responsibility to the community. If we don’t do it now, these kids won’t learn the responsibility of giving back.

“Some of these kids could grow up to become millionaires. We want them to look back at this and say during summer camp, I worked, I volunteered for a veteran project. That is the essential part of it is to put this into them early so that this can continue, not only for them, but for their peers.”

Washington gave a lot of credit to Chuck Spong, executive director of Love Out Loud, for the great work the organization has done over the years. “Love Out Loud has done an excellent job,” he said. “Kudos to them, my hat is off to them. They have spearheaded this and taken the lead and it has been remarkable when you go around and see what they have allowed these kids to be able to do and how they have gotten them together to do it.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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