By Lauren Wanko
Just after sunrise, more than 600 teenagers this morning filled the hallways of Neptune High School. Expect they’re not students. They’re volunteers with the faith-based organization World Changers. The teens are spending the week in the Monmouth County community to help those in need.
“People cannot tell me these days that young people don’t believe and care about communities. These young people are truly an example of everything that’s right with the young in America,” said Neptune Township Committeeman Randy Bishop.
Every volunteer pays about $300 to participate plus transportation. They stay at Neptune High School. The teenagers come from all over the nation to work on more than 40 projects throughout the neighborhood.
“If you look at the fact this probably equates to somewhere around 23,000 man-hours of work that’s happening in one week and is literally changing the lives of 41 people in my municipality. It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Bishop said.
Neptune Township resident Bray Lundy replaced his roof after Sandy damaged his home. He ran out of funds to repaint the house. That’s when World Changers stepped in.
“I’m thankful. I mean there’s no words to describe what they’re doing right now. This is incredible,” Lundy said.
This isn’t World Changers’ only assignment this summer. This year, more than 16,500 volunteers will work in more than 60 cities nationwide. But the project in Neptune is by far the largest this season.
“This is actually a special project because it’s also a disaster relief. We want to show this city that we don’t know why Sandy happened, but we want to show love to Neptune,” said Schyler Habowski of World Changers.
Sandy ripped off the siding on one home. A team works in the blazing sun to make the repairs. Still the group continues to focus on other needs within the community like building a wheelchair ramp for a homeowner, recovering in the hospital.
“It’s just fantastic being able to help this lady out. You know she’s been housebound and it’s just gonna be wonderful to be able to see her enjoying it and getting out of her house more often,” said Sophie Williams of Columbus, Ohio.
“I’ve been taught that giving is better then receiving and helping this woman out is gonna be the best feeling,” said Brett Powers of Ozark, Ala.
Neptune Township covers the cost of the materials through a grant. A World Changers crew chief oversees each project site.
“They’re just willing and ready to do whatever we tell them and they’re pretty amazing,” said World Changers Crew Chief Jason Bartlett.
The volunteers are on the job in Neptune until Friday. World Changers is already scheduled to revisit this community next summer.