For the past five years Quincy Martin, 16, has devoted a few days of his summer to better his community.
“I’ve grown up hearing about this and I was really excited to start doing it,” he said, referring to Work Camp, a nonprofit summer collaborative of local youth groups that helps Arlington residents with outdoor home maintenance.
Every year, Work Camp partners with Arlington code compliance field officers to identify homes that have been issued a notice of violation by the city. The group then assists residents, who because of family needs or health conditions, have not been able to bring their homes up to city code.
Each student pays $60 to enroll, which helps finance work supplies during the three-day camp. In two decades, the initiative has worked on 273 houses and this year, 181 students worked on eight houses.
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Resident Donna Johnson, who suffers several health ailments that don't allow her to do housework, was one of the residents assisted by the group. Martin said that when they arrived at the residence, the front door wasn’t visible. The group spent most of the day cutting down trees and bushes before painting the front porch.
Members of the Work Camp range in age from sixth-grade students to recent high school graduates. At Johnson's house, they worked in teams.
“It’s fun to be with your friends and do something for a good cause,” said first-time camper Rylie Winklepleck, who attends Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison, about 75 miles north of Dallas.
Kyle McAlister, also from Denison, has served for eight years as group leader. He said he noticed that many of the houses needed woodwork. As a cabinet-store owner, he felt the need to address this in order to serve residents better.
“We would paint the houses but a lot of times we were painting over rotten wood,” said McAlister, who leads the woodworking team.
“It’s amazing to see the effect it has on these homeowners and the effect the homeowners have on these kids, because they are so grateful,” he said.
“I have really enjoyed doing this and I hope that I can do it as many more years as I possibly can,” Martin said.