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Faithful fix-ups

Courtney Garner, 17, from Tuscaloosa, Ala., paints a porch railing at a home on Carolina Avenue on Tuesday. She is with the Baptist group World Changers working in Rock Hill this week.
Courtney Garner, 17, from Tuscaloosa, Ala., paints a porch railing at a home on Carolina Avenue on Tuesday. She is with the Baptist group World Changers working in Rock Hill this week.

Saws buzzed, hammers nailed, brushes brushed, and teenagers drank a swimming pool's worth of Gatorade on Carolina Avenue. In a few more days, Lizzie Mae Ratchford will have a new roof that doesn't leak like the old one.

And a dozen World Changers from across the South will have some new friends and fond memories of the week they spent under the sun in Rock Hill.

The scene Tuesday at Ratchford's house is playing out across town this week as volunteers from World Changers make repairs to 15 or so aging homes. It's a summertime tradition organized by the Southern Baptist Convention, which sends young people on mission trips every year.

Over the past decade, more than 150 seniors and low-income homeowners in Rock Hill have gotten help from World Changers with roofs, painting, handicapped ramps and other odd jobs.

This is the fourth summer for Andrew Clack, who worked on homes in Franklin, N.C., Anderson and Anniston, Ala., before making his first trek to Rock Hill.

"Back in my first year, I just came because everybody in my church was coming," said Clack, a native of Buford, Ga. "It got me hooked. I've been looking forward to coming for about a month."

Clack, 19, will be a sophomore this fall at Georgia Tech, where he's pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. Nailing shingles might seem like the height of boredom for a science guy, but Clack takes a different view.

"Up there on the roof, there's actually a lot of engineering stuff that goes on -- measuring, cutting," he said between bites of fried chicken at lunch. "There's a lot that goes into it."

And so it went on Carolina Avenue, where youngsters such as 17-year-old Blain Smith voiced a sentiment surely heard elsewhere across town during another World Changers week.

"This year, I really wanted to go and experience it," he said. "I'll keep doing it as long as I can."

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