More than 320 students recently paid about $260 to visit our hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, sleep on a high school floor and perform construction work for free on low-income houses.
The group is called World Changers, and the Birmingham group is among 23,000 teenage volunteers improving the living conditions of people across the United States and Canada. Since 1990, over 260,000 World Changers students have renovated more than 19,500 homes in more than 900 communities.
I stopped by one of the Birmingham work sites to see what all the fuss was about. I found a couple dozen kids outfitted with paint cans, brushes, hammers and roofing nails. They were giving homeowner Linda Hall’s exterior façade a much-needed facelift, completely repainting the exterior and installing new roof shingles in the sticky heat of the Alabama summer. Roofing is tough work, and hot weather makes it particularly grueling, but the students were all smiles and jokes. The World Changers were doing an excellent job of sprucing up the house, and having a great time doing it, occasionally even breaking into song. And Linda Hall was grinning from ear to ear, bragging on the crew of volunteers who she described as a “blessing from God.”
As Jonathan Wilson, Coordinator for World Changers explains, “World Changers is a win-win for communities and participants. For a community, these volunteers help stretch their housing rehabilitation dollars. For the volunteers, a World Changers project provides a place of service. They don’t have to wait until they get to college, get married, get a full-time job, etc. They can help make a difference now.”
I was impressed. In the middle of these uncertain economic times, these students were dipping into their own pockets to help improve the homes of others. Now, that’s change you can believe in.
For more information, visit www.world-changers.net. Also, scroll down for a few photos from my visit to the Birmingham work site.