The Richmond Register

Local News

July 11, 2014

Changing homes – and lives

Kentucky Changers spend week fixing Madison homes

RICHMOND — When homeowners Ann Redden, 94, and Wanda Grubbs, 85, both of Richmond, were asked to sign up for help from the Kentucky Changers, they both said no.

“I didn’t know if I could talk to a bunch of teenagers at my house,” Redden said, laughing, “I know how they are.”

But after a member of her church told Redden to consider it and pray about it, Redden had a change of heart.

Her house has five “really bad places” in its clapboard siding, and Redden decided she needed help or they would never be fixed, she said.

Eight teens and several “crew chiefs,” or leaders of the teens who are knowledgeable repairmen and women, spent this past week outside Reddens home, replacing all of its siding with new, white vinyl, free of charge.

By Thursday, the last day of the Kentucky Changers time in Madison County, during which they repaired 21 homes, Redden and those who came to help her were singing, laughing and talking together like old friends.

“Getting to know them has been just precious,” Redden said. “I’ll pray for each one of them by name every night.”

Grubbs had a similar experience. She has lived in her home since 1955.

“My son told me to fill the paper out and I wouldn’t. I’ve always been the one to help other people,” Grubbs explained.

After her son filled out the paperwork, however, Grubbs signed it. “My son and daughter help all they can, but to get a house painted is just a big job to get done,” she said.

In the past, Grubbs said she and her husband went on several mission trips with their church, including to Florida where helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, she said.

Looking out the window, Grubbs giggled at the teens resting at the foot of her newly painted home before lunch.

“They are the workingest bunch of kids I have ever seen,” she said.

On her kitchen table, Grubbs had a note written that she had been writing for them before they left.

It read, “2014 years ago my Savior paid a debt for me that I cannot repay. Now in July 2014 a group of dedicated people (Ky. Changers) came and did for me things that would never have been done in my lifetime and I cannot repay that either. I can only say “thanks” may “God Bless you.” I love each of you as long as I live.”

In the past, Grubbs said she and her husband went on several mission trips with their church, including to Florida where they helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew.

The 19 crews, totaling 304 individuals, of the Kentucky Changers, affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, blanketed just about every area of Madison County this week, helping families with outdoor projects they could not have done on their own, free of charge.

They worked on roofs, decks, handicap ramps and siding, said Marvin Hereford, of The Tates Creek Baptist Association. They also painted and performed other tasks.

“Teens get a bad rap,” Hereford said. “The Changers help families, but they also break boundaries and prove that teenagers are up to a lot of good, too.”

The teens and their chiefs came mostly from Kentucky Baptist churches, but a few came from Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Florida and Virginia, said state Changers coordinator Peggy Murphy.

“Most teenagers are scrambling to find summer jobs, but our kids pay to come here and work harder than they ever have in their lives. It’s incredible,” Murphy said.

Chloe Spencer, 15, of Richmond, helped paint, caulk and landscape Grubbs’ home. Sitting beneath a shade tree in paint-splattered clothing, she said the Kentucky Changers transformed lives as well as homes this week.

“This is about sharing love and hope for the homeowners, but it’s also about inspiring us. You think you’ll just come change a house for someone,” she said, “but it changes you in the process.”

Machaela Ballard can be reached at mballard@richmondregister.com or at 624-6623.

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