Local

Methodist ministry driven home with hammers, nails and prayers

Mary Douglas, center, of Seneca and other Salkehatchie youths from around the state make repairs to a home on Albert Street in Rock Hill. Below, Matthew Mansfield of Columbia removes nails from the roof of a home that is being repaired on Laurens Street.
Mary Douglas, center, of Seneca and other Salkehatchie youths from around the state make repairs to a home on Albert Street in Rock Hill. Below, Matthew Mansfield of Columbia removes nails from the roof of a home that is being repaired on Laurens Street.

At 7 a.m. Monday, a group of teenagers began tearing shingles from a roof on Albert Street.

Three more houses on Glenn and Laurens streets and Columbia Avenue in Rock Hill were receiving the same treatment.

The siding came off and floors were uprooted as part of Salkehatchie, a yearly program of volunteer building and rebuilding.

"Salkehatchie helps me become closer to God and my faith," said Katie Doerring, 15, of Irmo. This is her second year with Salkehatchie, a ministry of the South Carolina United Methodist Conference. The satisfaction of helping others motivated her to come back.

"Last year, we redid a huge house for the Stiff family in Rock Hill, and we're still getting Christmas and birthday cards from them in the mail," Doerring said.

Sixty-four teens arrived Saturday for a week of service in Rock Hill. They're among more than 2,900 teens with 42 camps in the state this summer, including more than 250 from Rock Hill, according to local director Tammy Hailey.

Hailey has been co-directing the local program for 20 years, but this will be her last, because of an illness that has left her in a wheelchair. Her son Charlie, 26, will be taking her place.

It's the 30th anniversary of the youth program and the 22nd year in Rock Hill. Members range in ages from 14 to 80 and come from states such as Michigan, Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. Every county in South Carolina is represented, Hailey said.

"One year, we had a member from Zimbabwe," she said. "They were the talk of the bunch."

When the project was turned over to Hailey and her husband, Chuck, in the late 1980s, the couple had to get community support and donations to complete the work.

Today, materials are either donated from hardware stores or purchased through a $200 Salkehatchie membership fee.

Hailey recalls not only the construction work she has helped with but also the lives she has helped change.

One of her fondest memories came out of Blackmon Road, where the group built an entire house and some furniture for a family. She remembers how one 14-year-old girl felt after the project was complete.

"The tiny little teenager grabbed my husband's arm and jumped up and down, holding this piece of a frazzled doll," Hailey remembers. "She told him that she had slept in a bed for the first time that night."

Another year, just a half-mile from the Haileys' church, the Salkehatchie group helped a woman in her 60s who had never had running water. After her first shower in more than 60 years, the woman said that the water pouring over her was the most wonderful sensation she had ever felt.

"It's hard to say goodbye, because we know we aren't coming back," Hailey said. "If you say you'll come back, you'll never leave. You have to move on to the next people the Lord leads you to."

Charlie Hailey has a degree in construction science and management from Clemson University and has been involved with Salkehatchie since his parents took over.

"We love Tammy," said volunteer Mary Douglas, 16, of Seneca. "Even though she's in a wheelchair, she's the best verbal leader and the strongest out of all of us."

Using a wheelchair helps Hailey empathize with the people she has helped, she said. This year, the Salkehatchie group will be installing a wheelchair ramp on Glenn Street for a disabled woman who can't get out of her house without someone carrying her.

"When these people need their wheelchair ramps, I know how they feel," Hailey said. "I also know how it feels to have someone help you."

Hailey said choosing homes can be difficult. The group usually gets 20 to 40 referrals each year from churches, city councils, the state Department of Social Services and even concerned citizens.

Only four houses are chosen, usually through prayer, and the others are placed on a waiting list for the next year.

"There are some houses that need the most work done and there are others who have no other way of getting help," Hailey said. "The Lord leads us to those who need it the most."

  Comments