Giving back to our community
Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The annual weeklong Service Over Self project came to a close last week as the throngs of teen volunteers packed up and went home after hundreds of hours painting, sawing, hammering and tackling any repair project that came their way.
The volunteers were mostly 65 teens that gave up a week of summer vacation to put the community’s needs before their own.
“Every year I hear from some parents that they can’t believe their kid is doing what they’re doing,” SOS volunteer and Bob Moss said during a ceremony for volunteers, their parents, and homeowners.
Most of the volunteers begin as paint scrapers and learn how to do a variety of repair tasks over their years of service.
“It’s nice to help out people and it gives you some life experiences,” said Jonathan Jackson, a 15-year-old volunteer.
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.
Service over Self began at Crawford Street UMC after Moss and several other church members visited Memphis in 1992 with the church’s youth group to take part in a week of service.
Moss only planned to stay a day or two. He stayed all week. He has made a tremendous impact in the lives of people who are or have been recipients and participants in the program over the last 20 plus years.
The physical changes to the homes are obvious, but the emotional changes for the homeowners and the volunteers run much deeper.
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.
Our community needs more Bob Moss’.