PINE ISLAND — On Monday, the rain subsided and the sun shone brightly on Pine Island. It was a nice, dry start to a week of service for 100 teenagers from across the country.
The TeenServe organization brings teams of teenagers to communities for a week of service and Christian worship. There was work to be done, even if the teens secretly hoped for rain to cool off.
Ashley Pike, 14, and Faith Jones, 16, both of Iowa Falls, found some shade to work in while renovating the deck of a Pine Island homeowner whose deck was rotting.
While it was warm, the two girls were happy to be outside, working and meeting new people.
“You get to meet new people, you don’t get to do that on the couch at home,” Faith said.
Ashley and Faith are part of a five-person team made up of teens from other church service groups.
After putting out a call last spring for homeowners in need of home repairs, TeenServe selected 28 projects for TeenServe groups to work on. Most of the projects consisted of exterior repairs like painting or construction, according to Jonathan Kamper, one of the TeenServe organizers.
Ashley and Faith’s site leader, Levi Nunnikhoven of New Sharon, Iowa, is a carpenter and has been volunteering with TeenServe for 12 years. He described the organization as a combination of youth service, Habitat for Humanity and praise.
“God blessed me with abilities,” Nunnikhoven said of his carpentry skills, adding that he is glad he is able to use his trade to help others.
Nunnikhoven teaches the teens the carpentry skills they need to complete the construction projects they are working on.
"The teens have a phenomenal time and get tired, hot and sweaty," Nunnikhoven said.
Nathan Quinn, 15, of Foley worked up a sweat while sorting boards for the deck. This is his first service trip, and he reported it has been "fun so far" even if it has been hot.
"I'm looking forward to hanging out with friends," Nathan said. It was a friend who invited him to come on the service trip. He was placed with strangers, but veteran participants know that by the end of the trip they will become close.
"You meet new people who become your friends," Ashley said. Its Ashley's first year participating in the program, but she volunteered in the kitchen for a TeenServe program in Cedar Falls, Iowa and saw how much fun all of the participants were having. Ashley also learned about the trip from her cousin Faith, whose entire family has been going on TeenServe trips for three years.
Faith still talks to the resident of the home she worked on during her first TeenServe trip. She is excited to get to know her group and the resident of the home she is working on this year.
On Friday, the community and the residents of the homes TeenServe worked on are invited to attend the organization's evening worship at Pine Island High School. Worship starts at 6:45 p.m.
Worship is a big part of the TeenServe program, and many of the participants link their service and faith.
"Its uplifting doing something for someone else," Ashley said.
Kamper hopes that community members will change their perception of teenagers after seeing them help their neighbors.
"Teens have a bad reputation," Kamper said, "so to see kids come and pay to help someone else it shows that the reputation is not necessarily true."