Giving with all their hearts

Teens, young adults spend week in Wichita giving to those in need
Young adults from six states participated in a Catholic Heart Work Camp in Wichita last month. They worked for a week, but their impact will continue for years.
Bonnie Toombs, director of the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office, said 276 teens and young adults made up 39 teams that completed 62 projects throughout the city the week of July 17 for the elderly and for those with low incomes.
The young adults, working in what may have been the hottest week of the year in Wichita, made many exterior house repairs, emptied numerous five-gallon buckets of paint, and completed several construction projects such as handicap ramps and decks.
"I think it's awesome," Toombs said last week. "It's such a gift for the community to be able to host a Catholic Heart Work Camp. It's good the volunteers are able to see our community and it's a blessing for the people we are able to help."
Bishop Carl A. Kemme's support is crucial because the volunteers are able to touch so many lives during the week, she said. "Relationships are built. And in some cases they last for years and years."
She and her daughter, Audra, served as managers for the work camp visit. The volunteers were hosted and housed by Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School. It is the third Catholic Heart Work Camp the Diocese of Wichita has hosted.
Kathy Lefler, communications and marketing manager for Habitat for Humanity in Wichita, said she was happy to be able to work with the Catholic Heart Work Camp.
Habitat started a related outreach, "A Brush With Kindness," last fall for home owners with disabilities or with low incomes who need help with exterior projects, she said. A project undertaken on East Ninth Street was the first time the outreach had partnered with Catholic Heart Work Camp.
"At Habitat for Humanity, we believe everyone should have a safe, affordable home," Lefler said. "We know we can't build a home for everybody, so we work with people who already have a home to keep it safe and affordable."
A Brush with Kindness has about 90 people in Wichita on a waiting list. Lefler guessed that before the year ends, they would be able to address the needs of 16 of those on the list, tackling about 40 projects, such as roofing, painting, and yard cleanup.
Homeowners contribute what they can to assist in the work, she said. "We're hands-on, rather than a hand-out. If they're able to contribute, we welcome that."
One of the young women at the East Ninth Street site, Samantha Keifer, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is volunteering for her seventh summer with Catholic Heart Work Camp.
"I love seeing the faces of our residents when they see all the work we do," she said. "They're so grateful and happy."