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Rocky Mount's Gatekeepers lend a hand to homeowners

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Gatekeepers Workcamp participant Joshua Martinez, 13, removes shingles from the roof of Viola Parker's home Monday in Rocky Mount.

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BY COREY DAVIS
Rocky Mount Telegram

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

ROCKY MOUNT — In some cases, the cost of doing repairs on a roof can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars.

It’s a big reason why Viola Parker, who lives on the 1700 block of Springfield Road in Rocky Mount, is so grateful for the 10 youth and five adult volunteers of the Gatekeepers Workcamp who are doing free repairs to her home this week that includes having her roof reshingled because of some leaks inside her home.

“It’s really a blessing and I just thank God for these people to come out here and do what they’re doing on my home,” Parker said. “This is something that you see on TV. It was a lot of work that needed to be done that wasn’t going to get done, so I’m shocked that it’s getting done. It’s hard to express in words how good I feel about this blessing.”

Parker’s home is one of eight homes that crews from Gatekeepers will continue to work on this week across the Twin Counties. The projects are part of the 27th year of the Gatekeepers Workcamp that was started in 1992 by Lakeside Baptist Church, which sponsors the partnership of Rocky Mount churches coming together to provide a hands-on, Christian mission experience for youth in grades 6 to 12 in an ecumenical setting in Rocky Mount. 

Ryan Schrimper, 17, who attends Rocky Mount High School and First Presbyterian Church of Rocky Mount, said this is his second time being a part of Gatekeepers after doing it last year. Schrimper, who was one of the several people on Parker’s roof helping rip off shingles and roofing paper, was happy to be part of an experience that helps people in need in the community.

“It feels great because everyone needs to do some good deeds in the community they live in,” Schrimper said. “This is also good because you get to meet new people from different churches.”

Schrimper is one of 175 volunteers from 12 churches that will participate in making repairs to homes of selected disabled, elderly and low-income homeowners such as exterior and interior painting, repairs to rotten floors and porches and weatherization.

Ted Sherburne of the Church of the Good Shephard, who has been involved in Gatekeepers for 11 years, said the ministry work helps bring people together from all different faiths and churches.

“We come into a community where the people that are helping isn’t like where they live, and they understand what we need to do to create a community,” Sherburne said. “This is the real blessing of Gatekeepers, which is helping people that are having difficulties of helping themselves.”

In addition to repair work on Parker’s roof, Marshall Ward, 25, a member of Lakeside Baptist Church who has been involved in Gatekeepers since he was 12, said he and other volunteers are also going to repaint the inside of Parker’s kitchen, which was damaged because of a small kitchen fire, and sand her kitchen cabinets. 

Jan Raynor, a crew leader and a longtime member of Lakeside Baptist Church who has been involved in Gatekeepers for the past 13 years, said it’s always rewarding to see the reaction of homeowners after the work has been completed.

“Every time we do a house the family is so appreciative, which is the reason I like doing this because I feel that I am giving back to the community and helping people who cannot help themselves,” Raynor said.

Elizabeth Edwards, associate minister of Lakeside Baptist Church and Gatekeepers workcamp coordinator, said the average budget per house is $1,000. She added the church has about 50 homes on the waiting list.

“There is usually a two- to three-year wait to get on the list,” Edwards said. “However, by the time some of them get on the waiting list, we can’t get in touch with them anymore or they don’t live there anymore. There is a lot of need in Rocky Mount. We do this one week out of the year with eight to 10 crews and we try to get to them as fast as we can.” 

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