For most teenagers, the first day of summer vacation is often set aside for sleeping in, lazing around and getting into the proper vacation mindset. For 85 area youth and adults, though, once school let out last week, the real work began. They are participating in Project SWEAT, a collaboration between several churches who are working to repair and renovate five Brownwood homes.
“It’s a good way to use your summer vacation. It’s good to give to the community, and to the church,” Jayden Stewart said. Stewart attends Brownwood First United Methodist Church (FUMC), one of several involved in the project.
“This is my first mission building project with a church,” said Andrew Johnson, who attends Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. “It’s better for me to be out doing this than being at home not doing anything.”
According to Christian Nance, youth director at FUMC, youth from his church, Coggin Avenue Baptist, Southside Church and Early First Baptist Church are all working on homes this year, carrying on an effort started by Coggin Avenue Baptist several years ago.
“We go into homes of families who don’t have a church,” Nance said. “We show those families what the Bible says, what it teaches, through action.”
Nance said the idea of taking on projects in Brownwood, instead of traveling to another town as they’ve done on past mission trips, was one that the local churches and youth have embraced.
“I think they’re (youth) getting more out of it,” he said. “When they’re finished, they will drive past the house and see results of the work they did. They might also see the family around in the community. That will encourage all the kids to hopefully do more.”
“Our youth pastor told us about the project and I felt like it was good to give back to the community because so much has been given to us,” Kevin Bostick, who attends Coggin Avenue Baptist, said. “I’ve been on mission trips to rebuild churches and homes in other places. With this, you know everyone here. You live here. On a mission trip, you get to know them, but you don’t know them before. It’s just fun to give back to the community.”
Courtney Campbell, who attends FUMC, said this was her first building project and she was glad it was in Brownwood.
“I like not having to travel so far and its good being able to see your finished project,” she said.
Jocelyn Woolf agreed.
“I’d probably be sleeping if I wasn’t doing this, but it was worth getting up. It’s worth it knowing that you’re helping people in the community,” she said.
Even though the youth working on the home at the intersection of Fourth Street and Avenue K attend different churches, many knew each other from school. Getting involved in the project with friends was helpful, they said.
“They encourage you to keep coming every day,” Dakota Pulley (FUMC) said.
Nance said this is First Methodist’s first year to participate in Project SWEAT, and he said he hopes that it builds a foundation of service within the youth he leads.
“This doesn’t need to be a one-week deal. We need to be involved in several things, all year round,” he said.