World Changers improve homes around Bremerton

Melissa Digiorno, 14, from Modesto Calif. rolls on a primer coat while Kelsey Frink, 13, of Massachusetts, on back ladder, scrapes off old paint as they worked at a project on Marine Drive. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Melissa Digiorno, 14, from Modesto Calif. rolls on a primer coat while Kelsey Frink, 13, of Massachusetts, on back ladder, scrapes off old paint as they worked at a project on Marine Drive.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

They came from far and wide to fix up Bremerton.

With students traveling from as far as Spain and as nearby as two Baptist churches in Bremerton, 230 World Changers came to town this week to participate in 17 home improvement projects citywide.

World Changers, a project of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, will be a part of 93 projects like Bremerton’s all summer long across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

“The city selects homeowners based on low-income and fixed income,” said Meagan Medley of World Changers. “We provide the labor so the city can save their money and use their money more wisely. The homeowners pick their own paint colors and everything.”

The students perform a variety of tasks including painting, roofing, gardening, replacing rotted wood and sometimes pouring concrete. Each group is led by a crew chief, who is responsible for a particular area of expertise.

“The crew chief is the specialist in the construction part of it,” Medley said. “They’re evaluated on what they know, how to do (the skill) or not and whether they can teach kids.”

At each job site, Medley said there is an adult “encourager,” there to provide support and keep things fun when the work gets hard.

Although the World Changers are sponsored by the Baptists, “the churches that provide us lunch (and support) are all different denominations,” Medley said. “The groups that come here, most are Southern Baptist but some are not.”

Local congregations, Kitsap Lake Baptist Church and Sonshine Baptist Fellowship, Medley said, participate not only locally but have sent groups to travel to other areas of the country as part of World Changers.

Kitsap Lake contingents have been to Puerto Rico and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“They send them to the hot places,” she said. ‘In Puerto Rico, they build houses from the ground up so it’s a different experience. They’re built for hurricanes.”

Carmen Panter, a crew chief visiting from an Olympia congregation, is a veteran of World Changers.

“My youth group, we come and do one every summer,” Panter said. “Last year, we went to Casper, Wyo. Every other year, we go out of state.”

“I like going on youth trips with my youth group. We got a bunch of people,” said 14-year-old David Magañya of Modesto, Calif. “If our youth pastor asks me to go somewhere, I usually go.”

Magañya was surprised to meet someone from his hometown for the first time at their work site in Bremerton.

Socorro Aguilar, 14, attends another church in Modesto.

“I really like going to World Changers. It’s really cool to come to a thing with a bunch of youth,” Aguilar said. “I came two years ago to Bremerton. It’s just me and two other guys who’ve been here before (from my church). The rest we call ‘em rookies, we gotta show ‘em the ropes and stuff.”

A pair of siblings traveled from Spain.

“We decided to go to Washington and help people,” said 13-year-old Daniel Monzón.

“I think that it’s more hot (here),” his sister, Sandra, 15, said.

“These kids are out here to serve God and show Christ to this community,” Medley said. “They’re real excited about being here in Bremerton.”

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