Salk Service 2017 rehabilitates homes, hearts

The 2017 Salkehatchie Summer Service Program concluded last weekend, seven homes rehabilitated.

Each year, dozens of Christian campers converge on Hampton County to perform home rehabilitations for county residents who have obstacles preventing them from performing the home repairs themselves. The week long 2017 Salkehatchie Summer Service program ended last weekend, but the memories made by campers and homeowners will last a lifetime.

Many campers say the $245 required to participate in the week-long exercise in heat exhaustion avoidance is a bargain when you consider the opportunity to grow close to the homeowners they are assisting. As well as their passion for helping others, campers are drawn to return and participate for multiple years because of tight bonds they form with fellow campers.

“They have become like my family. It is nice is to be able to see them every year and come work with them,” explained third year camper Madison Oaks, 18, of Ladder, SC. For Oaks, attending Salk Service is more than just an opportunity to visit with friends and have fun, although both are added bonuses.  

“It’s just the feeling you get from being able to help people that are less fortunate, and you come to grow close to people that otherwise you wouldn’t meet,” said Oaks. “Overall, it’s just being a servant of God and doing his work for other people.”

This year, around 85 youth campers made their way into the homes and hearts of residents. Older campers with several years of experience often take a leadership role in the renovations; local contractors donate time and supplies and work alongside the campers.

“You grow close to people here. It is about the relationships you have at camp, but it is more about the homeowners,” said sixth year camper Shelby Holliday, 20, of Gable, SC. “It is really crazy how close you can grow to someone in a week if you spend enough time with them. “

Homeowner Emily Reed explained how “special” it was to have campers spend time with her and renovate portions of her home.

“They did a lot of good work and they really lifted me up. It seems like I can just go on now,” said Reed. She went on to describe her love of listening to ninth-year camper Champ Squires, 25, singing of religious hymns.

Before leaving Hampton County, the faithful camp attendant recorded himself singing Reed’s favorite songs and gave her the recordings to play whenever her spirits are in need of lifting after his departure.

“It is just a pleasure to be able to serve her,” said Squires. The veteran camper suffers from medical complications which limit his ability to conduct strenuous work on the homes, so he finds different ways to better the lives of those around him.

“It’s uplifting for me, but it is uplifting for them. I would say it is even more about the relationships than the work…It is not things that you do for someone that matter, it’s the imprint you leave in a person that really matters.”

Reed is unable to see the work the campers have performed for her due to blindness, but she made campers aware she knew exactly what they were providing her. Squires was touched to hear Reed inform campers she is able to “feel” the work being performed on her home.

“I prayed and prayed and prayed, and I know God answered my prayers,” said Reed. The homeowner’s daughter and granddaughter also praised the campers of the 2017 Salkehatchie Summer Service and emphatically thanked for the work they performed on her home.