10 years of helpVolunteers give assistance to Washington, Ill.
They are mobile, high-spirited, hard-working and always where people need them the most. And they don’t even have a name.
Shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, the group pulled their van, complete with a U-Haul on the back, out of the UP Church parking lot and began the three-hour trip to Washington, Ill. While the drive isn’t quite as long as the veteran mission workers are used to, the need is just as great.
“I assume we are going to be picking up trash and nails and cement blocks and tree limbs and that kind of thing,” volunteer Karen Trotman said. “If it is raining the whole time we are there, we aren’t real sure what our jobs will be. They had talked about tearing out carpeting and drywall in basements.”
During a tornado outbreak on Nov. 17, 2013, one of two EF 4 tornadoes entered the town from the southwest, causing severe damage. Three people were killed – one during the storm and two afterward from injuries. Karen Trotman said that Washington, Ill. is only about 50 percent cleaned up from the severe weather due to the cold.
The group of adults — 15 in all, although only nine were able to participate in this trip — have participated in several mission trips inside the United States over the last 10 years. The group has traveled as far as New Orleans to help the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina. Karen Trotman said that the group had checked the Web site of the church that is in Washington, Ill., to determine the needs that exist. The group has also worked at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena to raise funds to use for the mission trips.
She said the program began with adults taking high school students to other areas to help. The adults in the UP Church congregation began asking why they couldn’t go places to help. Most of the members are now retired.
Volunteer Jim Cuddeback said that he has been to mission trips in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri, as well as many others.
“We went to Peoria (Ill.) and we went to Washington to help work on a house roof one other time,” Cuddeback said.
He explained that the group, which doesn’t have a formal name and the closest name he could come up with was ‘Presbyterian Adults,’ was made up of people who enjoy getting together and doing mission trips.
“The fun is working together,” he said. “We always come home feeling good about where we have been and what we have done.”
Volunteer Tim Trotman said that he had been going on these kinds of trips for over 20 years. Volunteer Joyce Wilson said that she first learned of the mission trips in the church bulletin. She volunteered to go to Biloxi, Miss., after a severe flood. She is one of the newer members, having gone on mission trips for about eight years.
“I went on the first one and I got hooked,” Wilson said.
She remembers saying before the first trip that she wanted to bring pop, which she drank first thing in the morning. The other members made her a hard hat with pop holders and hoses.
“I’ve done sheet rock, lots of painting, lots of painting, and some more painting,” volunteer Kathy Knutson said of the trips she has been on.
The group plans to stay in Washington, Ill. until Saturday.