Several churches and organizations in the Kutztown community came together to assist a homeowner in need in the Kutztown area on Dec. 7.
With funds made available by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, “The Blitz” was a combined effort by Trinity Lutheran Church, Saint John’s Lutheran Church, Saint John’s U.C.C. Church, and Cornerstone Church, all of Kutztown. These churches were also joined by The Barn Community Church from Allentown.
The homeowner of the property is a single mother who is also caring for an elderly aunt. The ability to remain employed and still care for her family has been a difficult struggle. Early in 2018, when it became impossible to afford to adequately heat the home, pipes burst and extensively damaged the flooring. This made it very dangerous for the aunt, who is dependent on a wheelchair or walker for mobility.
Through Friend, Inc., the Trinity mission team, led by David Owen, was made aware of the situation. The mission team was able to complete repairs of the flooring in early 2019. While doing those repairs, other issues were discovered which were concerning. Later in 2019, the homeowner contacted Owen with a fairly extensive list of things that needed repair. Realizing that the needed work was beyond the scope of the small mission team, Owen approached Trinity’s Pastor Christopher deForest about the possibility of conducting a “Blitz”, a one-day, extensive effort by a much larger number of volunteers, involving several local churches.
First, Pastor deForest reached out to Pastor MaryAnn Hamm of Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Kutztown, who had recently led a multi-church project to paint the benches in the Kutztown Park band shell. Pastor deForest thought it would be a good opportunity for local churches to come together once again for a good cause. The two pastors presented the idea of The Blitz around to other area churches, and it was well received.
The date of Saturday, Dec. 7 was set as the best for all who wanted to be involved. Among the needed work to be completed was damage to a ceiling in a bathroom, so repairs to the roof were completed a few weeks ahead of The Blitz in order to ensure the repairs would be a lasting improvement
Dec. 7 started out cold, but it was a beautiful day in many ways. Over 30 volunteers assembled to make a positive difference. Owen organized the volunteers into teams that completed the many tasks. One team completed repairs to the damaged bathroom ceiling. Another team repaired a damaged section of flooring that hadn’t been revealed in the first set of repairs.
Another team repaired and made safe, a handicap accessible ramp and deck, which is the main entrance to the home. Yet another team did the very difficult job of fully insulating under the home. While this all was being done, a member of Cornerstone Church, led by Pastor Nate Herrlin, discovered that several heating ducts were not properly connected, so that when the homeowner was trying to use the heating system, most of the heat was not making the house warmer at all, but was just wasted heating the outside air. Another team worked to seal the home to prevent air from making the house cold. Still another team diagnosed some electrical problems and discovered some potentially very dangerous issues. Now the electricity can work properly, and a risk of a fire was eliminated.
A “Clean Team” went through the home, cleaning and making the entire property much more pleasant for the residents. Another team made runs for needed supplies. Finally, a team of volunteers prepared a delicious hot lunch and many snacks to keep the volunteers fueled up for their day of hard but rewarding work. In addition, through donations from St. John’s and Trinity, the homeowner received a full tank of heating fuel to keep warm this winter.
There were many blessings that came from this event: the beautiful day; the fellowship and cooperation; the work that was completed; a safer, more comfortable house for the homeowner and her family.
The feeling of most who participated was that it was a great and blessed event. The hope going forward is that this was not just a single act of kindness. There are many similar opportunities out there in our community. We are hoping that this is just the beginning, and that our community will continue to come together to help those in need.
If you have questions or need further quotes, feel free to contact Pastor Chris deForest of Trinity Lutheran Church at 563-663-5315.
Jeff Collier submitted this story on behalf of those involved in the Mission Blitz. He is a member of the Mission Team at Trinity Lutheran in Kutztown.