Lawton Youthforce renovates homes for families in need

Lawton_It's summer vacation for most students.  Many are taking trips to the lake and different amusement parks.  But, one group worked really hard for a week - and even asked to do it.  Volunteer members of Youthforce Lawton came together to make a difference in peoples lives - in this case, renovating homes in Lawton.  These students even pay to do the work.  Over the last 13 years, the group says they have helped over 120 families by giving their houses a fresh coat of paint, and a fresh dose of hope.

Wanda Wright has lived in her home for over 20 years and says it's falling apart.  "This is the first time anybody has ever given me or did anything for me like this," she said.  But, Youthforce Lawton came to her door.  The group of volunteer students from 6th grade through recent high school graduates and began putting up siding and adding a new roof.  "We believe we're called to love our neighbors, and so we take time to take care of those who can't take care of themselves," says Youthforce Lawton Co-Chair Keith King.

King says that every volunteer pays $195 to work with Youthforce Lawton for one week, and that's where the group's funding comes from.  "All of that turns right back around into what we do on the homes and to feed us," says King.  Adults and kids from 12 different cities in Southwest Oklahoma help families with neglected homes.  "We work one week a year, but what they accomplish is phenomenal," says King.

Sixteen-year-old volunteer Braxton Wenk came all the way from Altus to volunteer, and began the week on Wanda's brand new roof.  This year was his fifth year to volunteer, and he says he's glad to help folks who can't manage to repair their homes on their own.  "It's a life changing experience to see their emotions, and it just really neat," he said.  Wanda says she's grateful for the hard work put in by the young people.  "If it wasn't for them, I don't know what I would have probably done to the house," she said.

The homes selected for renovation are suggested by the City of Lawton, followed by an application and interview process.  The 11 houses selected this year should be finished by the end of the week.