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Salkehatchie summer program helps residents rebuild homes
Salk Group web


C-I (Camden, S.C.) Localife editor


Salkehatchie Summer Service takes place every summer throughout selected sites in South Carolina to provide renovations to homes throughout the various communities. This year, the Wateree Camp division of Salkehatchie was held June 15-22 through Lyttleton Street United Methodist Church (LSUMC) in Camden. Five homes were selected -- two in Camden and three in Lugoff. This year, around 70 youth and adults volunteered their time and effort to participate in the program.

Participants must be at least 14 years old and a $215 fee is required which goes towards construction materials.

Meals for the week are provided by local churches and members of the community and campers stay at LSUMC.

The homes are chosen through the United Way of Kershaw County based on needs for different types of repair. The homes this year underwent a series of renovations ranging from new floors and cabinetry to new siding and water drain lines.

One of the Camden homes part of this summer’s program is the home of Ahmad Belton. Belton said the home is 63 years old and belonged to his grandfather.

He also said that his father was born in the house and lived there ever since. Belton said he has been trying to make various repairs on the building himself but was unable to complete everything that needed to done on his own.

"God gave the answer at the right time," Belton said.

Belton’s home will receive all new siding, which was donated by a local family, as well as new floors, insulated ceilings and a washer and dryer along with other various repairs.

The other home in Camden that was selected was the home of Missy and Dwayne Padgett. Renovations to their home include a new grey water drain line, the gutting and building of the kitchen along with installing new exterior windows and doors.

The crew will also be removing the rear deck which caused the rear wall and sill of the home to rot.

Jennifer Mitchell is the homeowner of one of the homes in Lugoff receiving aid from the Wateree Camp division for repairs to her home. Mitchell said that though she is excited "about it all," she is looking forward to a newly renovated kitchen that she can cook in.

"I thank God that he allowed them to be a blessing to others. They decided to take their time, which is precious, and spend it being a blessing to us," Mitchell said. "I am truly grateful… love is what makes all of this so special."

Mitchell said she is also excited about having electricity since one half of the home was without any form of power. Along with the new kitchen and electrical improvements, the home will also receive a fresh coat of paint and roof repairs.

Right across the road from Mitchell’s home is another property receiving the help of Salkehatchie.

The home of Iola Murphy and Lawrence Halley will have a new roof, bathroom and kitchen flooring, cabinets and the ability to use hot water. Due to a problem with the water heater, neither Iola or Lawrence were able to use hot water because of the terrible smell that would filtrate upon using it. Thanks to the crew assigned to their home, however, they will now actually be able to use their bathtub and have a source of hot water other than boiling pots of water on the stove.

"You can’t do it all by yourself," Murphy, who has lived in the home for 37 years, said.

Will Simon and Loretta Brazzel along with their three children John Paul, 7; Savannah, 4; and Katie, 13, live in the final home in Lugoff.

"I’m excited about being able to live in a better home," Katie said.

The two youngest children, John Paul and Savannah, referred to the experience as being fun as they helped the crew out with painting and sharing vegetables grown in their garden.

"I thought I was a worker but then I saw all of them running around me like worker ants and I was wrong," Simon said.

"This is the most loving family I’ve ever had. They really care and appreciate what we’re doing," third year Salkehatchie crew member Schuyler Wright of Durham, N.C., said. "It’s the first house I’ve worked on where most of the family has helped us out."

"It’s a hardworking experience but it’s worth it," fourth year Salkehatchie veteran Alexis Nanna of Boiling Springs said.

Various Salkehatchie crew members said that one of their favorite parts of the experience was towards the end of the week when "things start coming together."

Wateree Camp Director Sara Hagins said Salkehatchie is a great way of crossing barriers and bonding people from different races and backgrounds to help one another.