CrossRoads Church and Group Mission Trips Partner to Serve Hamilton County
Writer / Megan Arszman
During a period of five days in June, 250 volunteers from eight different states provided much-needed help for 26 Westfield and northern Hamilton County families, thanks to a partnership between CrossRoads Church at Westfield and Group Mission Trips of Fort Collins, Colorado.
It was a community effort for which the volunteers, mostly high school-aged young adults and several adult supervisors, honed their hands-on skills and opened their hearts to new connections as they worked alongside homeowners, learning more about their lives and themselves. This was the first time the program came to the area, but Reverend Dr. Eric Lohe, lead pastor at CrossRoads Church at Westfield, hopes it’s the start of a relationship that can help many community members in the years to come.
“Here in Hamilton County, it’s easy to look around and see the $500,000 houses all around and think everyone is fine,” Lohe says. “There are a lot of people who are struggling.”
The effort was funded primarily by fundraising, grants and donations. The church raised the initial $20,000 and then qualified for a $10,000 grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation. Westfield Washington Schools provided housing for the 250 volunteers, while groups like the Rotary Club, Women of Westfield, and Culver’s provided meals and ice cream celebrations.
“It was just a great outpouring of support from this community to care for its neighbors,” Lohe says. “We’re so thankful for the community support and everything everyone did.”
About 75 residents submitted applications for assistance such as repainting, deck or ramp construction, or minor repairs. Lohe and other volunteers visited each home to see the tasks needed. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only outdoor work could be accomplished, and the group was limited as to what could be done.
“Most of these volunteers were high schoolers, so their skill levels aren’t at the professional level,” Lohe explains.
One family received the gift of a new deck and attached ramp for their daughter. The 18-month-old was born with severe birth defects and disability, and in order for her to play outside, she scoots around on her family’s deteriorating deck. Twenty volunteers built a new deck and added a ramp to assist in her movement to the backyard, in hopes of allowing her more freedom if she is in a wheelchair later in life.
The groups added more color to mobile home neighborhoods, with fresh coats of paint for many mobile homes. Lohe says he witnessed positive changes when a bright color such as yellow was painted over gray.
“It makes a lot of difference in your mood,” Lohe says.
Lohe hopes to bring Group Mission Trips back in a couple of years, and make it a routine event every other year.
“I hope this inspires other groups to give back to the community like we did,” he says. “Because of the amount of money we must raise to offer our services free to the community, it takes a while, so this may be every other year.”
If you’re interested in learning more or donating, you can reach out to Lohe via email at email@example.com, or visit the church at 19201 Grassy Branch Road in Westfield.