For 25 years, essentially the same small group of from Dayton, Ohio have gotten together for one week during the summer to travel to a city and do service projects. Despite the church closing 2 years ago, and families moving over the years, the group travels from parts of Indiana and Ohio to continue serving together each year.
Through luck, the team is spending the week here in Fort Wayne partnering with NeighborLink to build a wheelchair ramp for a neighbor, Sheila, who cares for her 93-year-old mother.
What was originally supposed to be a group of 10 this week has dwindled to 3: Mike Bukner & Jarrett Kachmeister, a father/son-in-law duo; and Joni Pierce, the woman who started it all, 25 years ago.
"When I was in high school I went to camps, and it was my favorite thing," she said.Joni's husband was the pastor of the Dayton church for the first 9 years before moving on to chaplancy work.
After they left the church, the others in the group kept wanting to make the annual trips, so Joni and her husband kept going, too. Over the years group has served in Indiana, Ohio,New York, the Carolinas, West Virginia, and a few others.
A lot of those in the core group that have been going for anywhere from 15-25 years are related in some way, except for Joni and her husband. But, she said, they continued with the group, because, "They're like family to us now."
Groups like this trio, who are willingly in the heat this week building a wheelchair ramp, make it all worth it and are a picture of what it means to be dedicated to serving. To see their kindness and devotion to travel to cities year after year is inspiring, and we are humbled and grateful they are working here this week.