Lynda Monk and Christine Grobert were 16 years old when the Flood of 1985 devastated much of Preston County.
The girls were moved to lend a hand but didn’t want to collect money; they wanted to physically help. So, they gathered a group of seven, themselves included, and they traveled to Rowlesburg the following June with their Catholic priest and two chaperones.
“We were gung-ho and ready to go when we got here,” Grobert said. “We stayed in the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on Chestnut Street, the same place we stay in now…”
… Thirty-years later, what was a one-week, eye-opening experience for seven girls has turned into an annual summer home repair program organized through the Catholic Church of Preston County. More than 14 different volunteer groups now spend the summer months repairing homes owned by needy families.
“It is pretty awesome and makes us proud,” Grobert said with tears in her eyes. “I think this program is a sample that all you need is one person to start a great thing.”
This year the group from Chatham, New Jersey, had 43 students in their first week of volunteering.
“We have people on a waiting list to come and be a part of this program back home. It means that much to these kids,” Grobert said. “Some come back year after year.”
After the 30 years of volunteering, what was there left to say that hadn’t been said? “Come on down,” Grobert said. “Open yourself up to the experience.”
“It is not going to be what you think it will be,” Monk said. “It will be so much more.”