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AdventureServe, GCF build ramp for woman in Wilmore

Teens and college students worked hard under the summer sun in Wilmore last week to make life a little easier for their neighbors.

Volunteers from AdventureServe, a youth program that combines outdoor adventure with community service, teamed up with Great Commission Fellowship, a local church, to build a wooden ramp and a new set of stairs to the back porch of Phil and Marilyn Estes’ home at 201 Maple St.

Marilyn has health issues that make getting up and down stairs hard. So when Lee Ann Williams, GCF’s outreach pastor, was working one day in the community garden behind the Estes home, she noticed Marilyn wouldn’t come down off the porch. She later learned why.

Williams first tried to get a grant through AdventureServe, but the project didn’t meet the criteria. So she approached her church about using some of the money members had tithed from their coronavirus relief checks to help fellow members who were jobless but couldn’t draw unemployment.

“We asked folks to tithe off of the CARES Act, and they actually contributed close to $10,000 in tithes above and beyond their regular tithes,” said Jason Duncan, GCF’s pastor.

The church contributed about $1,500. Someone else gave $200 for the materials. AdventureServe provided the labor.

David Martin is only 15 years old, but he’s an old hand at operating an electric saw. He was cutting boards Wednesday to build the ramp.

He figures he’s helped build about seven to 10 of them.

“It’s nice being out here with all these people and doing something that helps people,” he said.

“I don’t have anything else to do. I might as well do something productive,” Sam Coppedge said moments after arriving on site.

The work is fun, she said, and it’s nice to know she’s helping someone who needs a hand.

“I’ve been doing it for three years now, and I really like being outdoors,” said Joselyn McKenzie, a West Jessamine High School student who is doing an apprenticeship with AdventureServe this summer. “I find it really rewarding.”

She likes it because her friends are doing it, and she likes the outdoor activities, she said.

Lydia McMillion, who was using a wrench to tighten a nut and bolt, said she not only enjoys the work, but also the devotionals.

Cameron Curran, a staff member from Lindsey Wilson College, who was serving as the construction coordinator, said that week’s lunchtime devotion was about stewardship.

“They learn about how to be good stewards of God’s creation and how that plays into everything,” he said. “Being a good steward of the relationships with the people God puts in your life,” and how to use wood and money effectively without wasting it.

There were other staff members involved too, including Sarah Centeno from Chicago and Kudzi Nyakudzi, a South African student who took a break from the sports management program he was enrolled in to work with AdventureServe in 2018, then decided to come back.

“It’s crazy that I’m still here in Wilmore, Kentucky, right? But I love it here. … I enjoy the beautiful combination of service and adventure and how we connect people in a positive way.”

Marilyn also thinks AdventureServe’s mission is “wonderful.”

At that age, she said, young people “need some guidance and to be able to put their heart into” service.

“I went out and said hello to them today,” she said last Wednesday. “I stayed up on the deck while they were down there and told them thank you,” she said. “I explained that I’m not in a wheelchair, but I have a lot of trouble getting up and down these steps, so it will be a big help to me.”

Marilyn said she is mostly isolating now, but does go to the doctor and the grocery, and occasionally riding around in her car with the windows down. Being able to get to and from her car more easily will give her more mobility. She said she can use a foldable canvas cart to roll along the ramp to get her groceries to and from the car.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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