Mission participants build deck, friendship, faith

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — High school youths and adults sweated it out July 12-15 to help make life a little easier for a Davenport woman with rheumatoid arthritis.

Our Lady of Victory Parish’s annual mission partnered with Rebuilding Together for this year’s project in west Davenport. They worked on the home of Caroline Vernon.

Anne Marie Amacher
From left, Tyler Welch, Kylie Welch, Donna Diggs and Karina Martin paint columns to be installed on a deck during Our Lady of Victory Parish’s mission in Davenport on July 12.

Evan Brankin, the parish’s coordinator of youth ministry, said the heart of the mission work was to assist the homeowner, to improve her quality of life, to provide participants with a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ and to build relationships among parishioners, particularly with youth.

To help accomplish those goals, Mass was celebrated each morning, witness talks were offered during lunch and volunteers talked about what they experienced at the end of the day. Parishioners of all ages were invited to the construction site to witness what was being done, whether or not they could assist with the project. Lunch and dinner were provided each day by parish volunteers. Another component of the parish mission was the opportunity to go to confession and holy hour on July 12, attend movie night July 13 and parish wiffle ball game July 14.

Brankin and Dave Trees, job leaders for the construction work, said exterior tasks included reinforcing, repairing and bringing the back deck to code; adding a new section to connect the existing deck to the patio; building a custom staircase from the deck addition to the homeowner’s back yard to accommodate her needs; and painting and sealing.

Inside the house, work was done to create easier access into the shower. A hand rail was installed in the shower and a bathroom vent was added. Other projects included updating outdoor outlets, replacing a ceiling fan, painting the carport, fixing a dryer vent, sanding two exterior doors and organizing the shed.

“We are making conditions safe for her,” Trees said.

Parishioner Kim Burken, on-site job leader and a teacher at John F. Kennedy Catholic School, kept volunteers on schedule. She oversaw lunch orders, distributed gift cards to people picking up materials needed for various jobs, checked work progress and made sure everyone was hydrated and feeling OK.

Tyler Welch, an eighth-grader at JFK School, and his sister, Kylie Welch, a junior at Assumption High School in Davenport, volunteered because they wanted to help someone who couldn’t do the work herself. It also provided an opportunity to earn service hours, Tyler said.

Donna Diggs, a senior at Central High School in Davenport, said she likes being involved in youth ministry and volunteered for this project as a way to help others. Aaron Murphy, a junior at Davenport West High School, also wanted to help others, and had time to spare from his job.
Vernon’s daughter, Candice Hernandez, was at the site July 12 because her mother was at work and a family member needed to be present during the construction project.

“We are grateful for the work,” Hernandez said. “This would never get done on our own.” Her mother “will be able to use her deck and lower lawn, which she hasn’t been able to do. She will be safe.”

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