Carolina Cross Connection Volunteers Change Homes and Lives

                                    Carolina Cross Connection staff, volunteers, and happy homeowners

A June 2023 Community Foundation grant to Carolina Cross Connection supported the nonprofit’s Home Repair Ministry in Dare County. The grant paid for raw materials to build ramps and stairs at the homes of four elder county residents. We caught up with a few of the teams hard at work in Manteo and were inspired by their compassion and selfless service.

In July, a Carolina Cross Connection (CCC) volunteer youth team spent three days building new wooden steps at Loretta Adam’s front door, pulled weeds, and cleared pinecones and brush around her Manteo home. Despite health issues Loretta still mows her own yard. She was determined to be helpful and worked outdoors alongside the young volunteers. Like most people served through Carolina Cross Connection, Loretta is an older adult. She also is outgoing, independent, artistic, and wants to serve others, which she does through Bible study and performing good deeds at every opportunity.

“Manteo has been a great community for picking up home repair leads just from word of mouth,” said Aly Hanlon, one of CCC’s Dare Team Leads. “Friends and neighbors spread the word. The cafeteria staff who prepare our meals at Manteo Middle School have told their friends, and that’s also been a wonderful referral source.”

Loretta knew her friend Priscilla also had yardwork needs and connected her with the group. Priscilla Hardy needed to have her hedges trimmed, a small tree taken down, and lots of overgrowth removed. The most rewarding moments came after the CCC team cleared out a front yard memorial for Priscilla’s daughter that had been hidden by weeds. When Priscilla saw it once again, she couldn’t hold back her tears of joy. The whole group felt rewarded by her happiness. “It got emotional,” said one teen volunteer.

“I couldn’t find anyone to do this work for me,” said Priscilla. “These children are angels, and that’s the truth!”

Ethel Bowser lives about a mile away. Younger family members live with her, and more family, including her sister, live nearby. She uses a walker when she needs it and has had difficulty navigating her front steps. A group of 13 to 15-year-old Carolina Cross Connection volunteers and two construction counselors were assigned to her project. After the youth volunteers were trained on safe and proper use of tools like orbital and miter saws, levels, and drills, they worked for the next four days building a safe, sturdy ramp leading from Ethel’s front porch.

“We chose our youngest group for Ethel’s large project because we wanted them to see what they could accomplish,” said Aly. “We wanted to show them their strengths.”

“I’ve used my ramp every day,” Ethel smiled.

Carolina Cross Connection addresses accessibility issues for individuals who live with disabilities and/or mobility issues. The nonprofit recruits youth to spend a week of their summer vacation in service to others, and they are provided thorough training on everything from tools and saws to an overview of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and older adults in our society. The children learn compassion, teamwork, and service to others while they pick up real skills in carpentry, landscape maintenance, and home repair.

130 Carolina Cross Connection 6th to 12th grade student volunteers and 31 adult chaperones came to Dare County predominately from ten North Carolina and Virginia Methodist churches in weeklong shifts in June and July. Each volunteer pays for their camp week experience, and communal housing is arranged. In addition to Community Foundation support, the groups were housed at Manteo Middle School through a partnership with Dare County Schools. In all, 37 local homes were improved by CCC, a Gastonia NC-based nonprofit.

“It’s challenging, and it’s so rewarding,” one young volunteer related.

“We include our neighbors in the decisions made about our work around their homes,” shared Aly. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to every project referred to us this time. Nonetheless, this has been a terrific summer for all of our campers and staff.”

“Now my sister can come visit me whenever she wants to,” said Ethel. “This ramp is such a blessing to me, and I’m so grateful to these children. I am truly blessed.”