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July mission trip will help Dexter residents needing home repairs

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DEXTER — Eligible residents of the Dexter area in need of home repairs will have the opportunity to get these improvements taken care of at no cost when hundreds of volunteers come to town in late July. The Colorado-based Group Workcamps Foundation’s Group Mission Trips organization will be in Dexter from July 21-27, 2019.

First Free Baptist Church Pastor Andrew Bermudez, who has taken part in Group Mission Trips in New Jersey, is working to bring the organization to Dexter. On the afternoon of Dec. 5 he gave a presentation on the program at the Abbott Memorial Library.

Bermudez, who has been in Dexter for a half dozen years, said, “I wanted to get involved in the community since I have been here” with Group Mission Trips being a great way to help the area.

“At least 70 homes will be worked on by 415 volunteers,” Bermudez said about plans for July 21-27. Many of the volunteers, all of whom undergo program training, are college students and members of high school and junior high church youth groups, and they work with older adults in groups of six at individual sites. Typically two boys, two girls, and two older adults will be conducting the home repairs over the week. The schedule has full days on Monday and Tuesday and then Thursday and Friday, with a half day on Wednesday allowing the volunteers to experience the area during their midweek time off.

“This one in Dexter is one of only two in New England, there is one in Rhode Island,” Bermudez said about Group Mission Trips scheduled around the country with the Dexter session being one of the last of the season. He said program organizers have already visited the community.

“They said ‘Dexter is Workcamp ready, there are a lot of homes that need repair or help,’” Bermudez said. The pastor has been working with the town government and community businesses and organizations and all involved have been very supportive.

“Technically the town is the cosponsor, but I’m the representative,” Bermudez said.

“Each volunteer pays $464 to come, so not only are they volunteering their time and paying for their own transportation, they are paying to come,” he said.

The hundreds of Group Mission Trips volunteers will be staying at the Ridge View Community School, and Bermudez said they will be purchasing meals from the same vendor the school uses. He said program officials do not want the town or school district to incur expenses.

Group Mission Trips is covering about half of the $40,000-plus materials costs, and Bermudez said the other half is nearly all committed from local benefactors. The pastor said building materials will be purchased from local stores.

“We need a good amount of applications,” Bermudez said. Applications can be picked up and dropped off at the town office.

In order to qualify for the no cost upgrades, applicants must be elderly, low-income, or disabled. “Basically people who can’t afford to do the repairs on their own,” Bermudez said. “The home also needs to be in need of obvious repair.”

He said the dwelling must be owned by the occupant and needs to be meet safety criteria, and “the resident or a responsible adult must be home during the work week, and also because the volunteers want to get to know the residents.”

“The work must be four and a half days long for a crew of six people,” Bermudez said. He said potential sites to be worked have to be within a 30-minute drive of the Ridge View Community School, so this could include projects in other towns that are part of the Dexter-based SAD 46.

“For the safety of all the volunteers coming, especially teenagers, all residents must have a background check,” Bermudez said. He said the town has most of this necessary information already on file.

Applicants will undergo a site plan review prior to July. Bermudez said projects that can be taken care of include exterior and interior painting, mobile home skirting and insulation, roofing (but not tear-offs), porch repair and construction, wheelchair ramp construction and repair, and weatherization.

Group Mission Trips volunteers will not be able to carry out electrical, plumbing and heating work, gutter repairs, floor tiling installation, and full door and window replacement.

While many volunteers will be coming to Dexter from around the country, others from the area are also needed leading up to, during, and after the July week. “Anyone who applies can be a volunteer,” Bermudez said.

He said there are a number of volunteer opportunities through more than a half dozen committees, including leading the committees. The various groups and leadership positions include a site team, ladder team, hospitality team, finance organizer, media advocate, setup and staffing volunteer coordinator, setup team, local project advisors, and construction clean-up coordinator.

“It’s going to be a community effort,” Bermudez said.

For more information on the Dexter Group Mission Trips, please contact Bermudez at abermudez73@gmail.com.

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