The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia’s headquarters on Conshohocken Avenue was a flurry of activity the week of June 27, with the sound of power equipment echoing through the hallways. Teens with the faith-based group, World Changers, traveled from across the country on a mission trip to perform community service. The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia was one of the local agencies blessed with their help for four days.
“They are amazing,” said Major Susan Ferreira, Associate Director of Operations, The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia. “I’ve wanted to work on cleaning and organizing the basement since last year, but never had the manpower until now.” Dozens of students also painted, patched drywall, installed shelves and performed other maintenance at Salvation Army corps community centers in West Philadelphia and Roxborough. Additional World Changers crews helped out at Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) properties across the city. The volunteer effort, of close to 200 youth, saved the organizations tens of thousands of dollars.
“My dad is super handy. I learned from him how to help around the house,” said Elizabeth Stump, 14, of Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second year in a row she volunteered for the mission trip with World Changers.
“It is really nice to help people,” she said with a big smile.
In addition to forgoing some of their summer vacation, World Changers volunteers like Elizabeth paid their own way to participate in the event. On average, the trip costs each teen about $250.
“We are happy to be here to help,” said Theresa Bates, who served as a “crew encourager” and as an adult chaperone. Theresa was inspired to participate in the World Changers mission trips when she learned of the initiative through her church in Illinois. Over the last three years she traveled to Savannah, Georgia, Chattanooga, Tennessee and now Philadelphia for this ministry opportunity.
The local initiative is in partnership with Philadelphia, PHA, The Salvation Army, and other agencies. Salvation Army canteen trucks provided water at the work sites. Students from The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia’s Soup’s On! Project, a culinary arts job training and placement program, prepared packed lunches for all of the volunteers. Members of the building trades unions, employed by PHA, also worked with volunteers and supervised their activities.
During the summer of 2016, World Changers projects will take place in more than 75 cities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Since 1990 there have been more than 300,000 participants in the World Changers program.
“We’re here for one purpose – to serve,” Theresa explained. “We will do whatever we need to do to improve the community,” she added.