Changing the world  home by home

Teen teams headed next to N.O., Baton Rouge

Advocate photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Chandra Jackson, of Ponchatoula, observes how World Changers volunteer Bailey Newton, 15, of McDonough, Ga., is tall enough to paint the ceiling of her porch. The Southern Baptist World Chanters programs brought teams to Ponchatoula in June and will have them in New Orleans and Baton Rouge in July.
Advocate photo by MARK H. HUNTER -- Chandra Jackson, of Ponchatoula, observes how World Changers volunteer Bailey Newton, 15, of McDonough, Ga., is tall enough to paint the ceiling of her porch. The Southern Baptist World Chanters programs brought teams to Ponchatoula in June and will have them in New Orleans and Baton Rouge in July.

Teens on two World Changers teams spent three days building two long wheelchair ramps onto the front and back of Carrie Cyprian’s house near Abita Springs in late June — acts of kindness she said changed her world.

“It’s really gonna help me and five other people living here,” Cyprian, 82, said. “We have a little handicapped boy with braces on his arms and legs and my twin brothers (who will be 85 on July 16) are both in wheelchairs.

Called “Miss Carrie” by those who know her, Cyprian has lived in her house for 50 years.

“Oh, it’s such a joy to have these kids here,” she said. “They make me feel young!”

Cyprian is among the many elderly and low-income residents Southern Baptist World Changers are assisting this summer around south Louisiana. Enlisted on teams with such names as “Hard Hats,” “Plumb Bobs” and “Nail Heads,” the teens do as much sprucing up and fixing up and painting as unskilled volunteers are able to do.

The theme of this year’s campaign is “Change the city, change the world.”

During the third week of June, more than 170 teens from eight churches in six states met at First Baptist of Ponchatoula and completed 16 projects in the Ponchatoula- Hammond area.

The last week of June another 250 students from 12 churches in seven states met at First Baptist of Covington and completed more than 20 projects in that area, including Cyprian’s home.

Next week, 209 teens from six Southern states will descend on New Orleans to work on 18 projects and will headquarter at John Curtis High School, said New Orleans Baptist Association coordinator Andrew Goolsby.

“Anytime you have this number of kids working on a significant amount of projects that will impact people’s lives — how can you not be excited?” Goolsby said.

After working all day, the teens will attend evening worship services at Hope Church.

Beginning July 15, the Baton Rouge World Changers event will get underway with 134 teens from seven churches from four Southern states. Sponsored by the Mayor’s Office and the Office of Community Development, they will camp at Florida Boulevard Baptist and work on projects around the inner-city area, said Scott Bailey, a local coordinator.

Mayor-President Kip Holden said he’s glad the city will benefit from World Changers teens for a 10th year.

“We will continue to use their story to demonstrate the power of volunteer service and the impact it has on communities so that we can make Baton Rouge a better place to live, work, and play,” he said.

A $25,000 Community Development Block Grant will help pay for materials.

Bailey said, “This is a great ministry opportunity for (the teens) to impact some underserved neighborhoods, and they actually are paying to do this.”

Each student pays $250 to participate. More than 90 World Changers projects are scheduled this summer in 85 cities from Alaska to Florida, from New York to California. Now in its 23rd year, the nonprofit program, a ministry of Lifeway Christian Resources, coordinates the efforts of the individual teens, their church youth groups, a host church where the teens camp for the week and a hosting agency that supplies the materials such as paint and lumber from local businesses that often also donate time and materials.

Kaite Beasley, missions and communications specialist for Louisiana World Changers and a sophomore at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn., said she can see the teens change as the week progresses. “I love seeing them realize they matter in God’s plan and they can go out and be a servant.”