FORT WORTH -- Loretta Hardeman says she prayed for help fixing up her house in the Como neighborhood, a home that has been in her family for decades.
But the money spent on cancer treatment for the 58-year-old woman, and the exhaustion that came with it, meant the sagging front porch and peeling paint had to wait.
This week, her prayers were answered.
A dozen teenagers and adults with paintbrushes, hammers and power saws converged on Hardeman's home as part of a summer work camp organized by two Fort Worth churches.
More than 100 teens and adults from St. Paul Lutheran Church and Como First Missionary Baptist Church spent the week repairing 18 homes, many in Como or south Fort Worth. The churches first partnered last year to fix up 10 homes and expanded the effort this year.
At Hardeman's house, the church members painted the new wooden post they installed in place of a rotting one. At other homes, they installed flooring, replaced a bathtub, built handicapped-accessible ramps and repainted old surfaces.
"It's a blast," said Kristin Norris, 17, a senior at Paschal High School. "The people are awesome, and the work is actually fun."
St. Paul has held summer work missions for years. But until last year, the group usually traveled across the country, even to Mexico. Eventually, travel costs got too high, and Mexico is no longer safe.
"We said there was more than enough need right here in our community," said Wendy Neidigk, a St. Paul ministry assistant.
Pastor Kenneth Jones of the Como church helped identify homeowners in Como who could use some help. The teens each paid a $125 registration fee for the camp, which included transportation, meals and some supplies.
St. Paul supplied breakfast and dinner. The Como church provided lunch.
Corporate sponsors contributed $8,000.
Adults supervise the work, but some teens are already handy.
Troy Muench, 14, said his father is a painter, so he is familiar with house painting. Working all day in the Texas heat isn't easy, but Stephanie Jordan, 13, said the teens take short breaks each hour.
"Lots of water," Jordan said. "And lots of shade."
Hardeman prepared lunch and cookies and cake for the teens Thursday.
"I just want to say thank you to these kids and the churches for doing this," she said. "These kids are an inspiration."
Alex Branch, 817-390-7689