NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Every summer United Methodist Army teams arrive to towns across the state for mission work.
They arrive with faith, but they're also equipped with hammers, saws, drills and a strong work ethic. East Texas News met up with a group in Nacogdoches from Richmond in Fort Bend County.
The first day of any UM Army site involves assessment.
By the end of the week, the team will have completed numerous home improvement projects for those in need, according to Camp Director Wes Wittig.
"The community provides all of the sites to us," Wittig said. "Those all come from local non-profits here in the community to tell us those things. We're doing major construction; wheelchair ramps, porches, things like that."
In all, 130 workers, mostly high school and college students, do the backbreaking labor. Newbie Emily Otto was included in that number. She admits her construction background is a bit limited.
"Know what a hammer looks like," Otto said with a laugh.
Yet this star softball pitcher has the confidence to give a porch tear down a swing.
"There you go," a leader told her. That a girl."
The encouragement comes from Jeremy Morong, who started out like Emily six years ago. The University of Houston senior is now a team leader.
"They go from asking, 'What should I do?' to them just stepping up by the end of the week taking roles," Morong said.
"The most powerful thing is for them to meet people, the clients we are serving, to meet them and discuss their stories," said John Stephenson, the lead pastor at Faith United Methodist Church in Richmond.
At this site, the workers learn a future backdoor ramp will help Shunta James help her mother in law, but more so ...
"That's a wonderful way for them to show churches still benefiting the neighborhoods," James said.
UM Army members pay $250 each for the privilege of working under hot and humid conditions and living a week at a host church. It's worth every penny and more.
"Just help out the community and maybe find ourselves a little bit along the way," said Joshua Williams, a UM Army volunteer.
Over four thousand participants will compose UM Army this summer in over 48 different cities. They will help an estimated 1,000 needy families.