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Moss puts service before self

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 15, 2014

For the past 15 years, Bob Moss has spent his Father’s Day serving as a role model for countless teens.

Tonight, Moss and a group of other adult volunteers will meet at Crawford Street United Methodist Church with teens who will spend the week repairing homes as part of the annual Service Over Self project.

It couldn’t be a more fitting way for him to celebrate Father’s Day, said his three children who all have participated in Service Over Self.

“He is the ultimate example of selflessness, always putting God and others before himself,” his daughter Minta Moss Horton of Katy, Texas, said. “We love him incredibly and are so proud that he shares his time, talents and joy with all those around him.”

Bob Moss, a volunteer with the Service Over Self program, stands Thursday outside a home that the program will work on next week.
Bob Moss, a volunteer with the Service Over Self program, stands Thursday outside a home that the program will work on next week.

Moss, who has been involved in Service Over Self since its inception in the early 1990s, isn’t quick to talk about his role in the volunteer project. Rather, he wants to shift the focus to the other adults and teens who spend the week fixing up the houses of needy members of the community.

“That is classic my father for sure — trying to talk about everybody else and how good a program it is,” his son Kellis Moss of Washington, D.C., said when told of his father’s responses. “He is absolutely the guy that I still want to grow up and be. I couldn’t look up to him anymore than I do. He’s probably the hardest working most genuine person that I’ve known. If I could be half the guy that he is to my future family, it would be incredible,”

As a reporter from this newspaper asked Bob Moss about his contributions to the Service Over Self Program, he continually gave a list of people he had felt had made greater contributions than his own. Eventually he did mention he takes a week of vacation to volunteer for the event.

“It’s a youth event, but because it’s so captivating so many adults want to take part in it too,” he said while giving praise to some longtime volunteers.

Service over Self began at Crawford Street UMC after Bob Moss and several other church members visited Memphis in 1992 with the church’s youth group to take part in a week of service.

Bob Moss only planned to stay a day or two. He stayed all week.

“I couldn’t make myself leave,” he said.

Crawford Street decided to begin a similar project in 1993, and in 1994 they partnered with Hawkins UMC before expanding volunteer opportunities to the whole community in 1995.  The program moved to start on Father’s Day night 15 years ago.

“There’s unusually not anything going on the week after Father’s Day,” Bob Moss said of the reason for the change.

The work is not the way most people would imagine teens spending their summer vacations. Yet, each year the program draws between 40 and 100 young volunteers who scrape boards, paint walls, put on roofs, fix plumbing and perform plenty of other repairs for homeowners who need a little help getting their houses in shape.

“No one has no skills,” Bob Moss said. “We want the kids to do as much of it as they can by themselves. “You really want them to do it, to have the ownership of it.”

Bob Moss, who is a construction contractor, helps oversee the projects.

“He gets to hang out with these kids and share the World with the kids and the community,” his daughter Mallory Moss of Denver, Colo., said. “I want people to know that he is very selfless and he’s a good man to have by your side because he’ll have your back.”

She remembers helping roof a house during Service Over Self when she was a teen.

“It sticks with you forever. I remember some of the houses that we did years ago,” she said.

The homeowners, who were picked this year based on recommendations by the City of Vicksburg and AmeriCorps Volunteers s pay nothing for the repairs.

“We’ve spent over $10,000 on a house in the past and we’ve done projects where we didn’t spend $500,” Bob Moss said.

At least six homes will have work crews come Monday morning. Another half dozen might receive help this week.