West Virginia – Weekly Report – April 5-9, 2021

April 16, 2021

Dave and Patti Hughes returned from Easter break in Ohio as Project Director and Office Manager for this shortened week. Scott “Bo” Bowman of Pennsylvania joined us as equipment operator and Lois Wenger came from New York to cook for the volunteers. Our weekly crew of five men was also from New York.

Rodney Burkholder and Sam Miller who represent MDS Region I were in town for a few days. They are pursuing leads for houses as well as bridges to be built. There is plenty of need here in West Virginia, but qualified recipients must be identified, and funding secured.

Wayne, a volunteer from Virginia, came to set up our shiny new shower trailer as well as doing a few other jobs. He knew his way around, having helped with the reconfiguration of this former church building into a center for volunteer housing. It is a red brick building which we enter from the back parking lot into the lower level. In the 2016 flood, there was seven feet of water in the building. Last month, the water from Big Sandy Creek behind the property came up to the parking lot. MDS volunteers have rebuilt the lower level to provide a dining room/office area, a full kitchen, a bunk room, one private bedroom, two half-baths, a shower, and laundry room. On the second floor, which was the sanctuary, there is a large open area with bunks, two small rooms, and another bathroom with a shower. We are pleased to have the new trailer as it expands our shower situation from two showers to six.

You might say it was senior week. The average age of volunteers at camp was 66.  That did not slow us down. Even with the short week due to Easter, we made great progress.  We began on Tuesday with laying out the bridge and constructing the rebar “cages” that reinforce the concrete. Forms were set up on Wednesday and ready for the cement truck which arrived on Thursday morning. Cement had to be carried to the forms using the skid steer as the truck could not come down the driveway. The big challenge came on Friday when the 60 foot beams had to be unloaded and placed on the abutments. Bo had to slide them down the hill, as it was too steep for the track hoe to carry them. He described it as “death defying”. The pictures simply do not convey the steepness of the driveway at the Canterbury home. The men got right to work securing the beams and braces, determined to have it done by the end of the week, which they accomplished by working a long day on Friday.

Lois shared this quote from Booker T Washington which is so fitting for this week: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, but by the obstacles he has overcome”.

Patti Hughes for the West Virginia Bridges team