Jun. 17—CONNEAUT LAKE — "There's a like-mindedness in mission," Tricia Deemer said as she brushed stain onto the porch railing spindles of a Richmond Street home.
Deemer is just one of dozens of people volunteering this week with His Work His Way, a nonprofit Conneaut Lake-area joint ministry outreach.
Work crews range from one or two people to half a dozen helping those in need in the area, according to Mike Krepps, who is chairman of the organization's board of directors. Around 50 folks are in the field — some able to volunteer the entire week while others are only available a few days.
About 20 other kitchen volunteers are working this week to provide the crews with breakfast, lunch and dinner, Krepps said. Fellowship Hall at Trinity United Methodist Church serves as the base of operations during the week. The volunteers gather daily for breakfast, devotions and a prayer circle before embarking from Trinity to their assignments for the day.
"We use every bit of help we can in every way we can," Krepps said. "We are looking for youth because some of us are getting older."
There are about 30 projects — big and small — being tackled this week. There are major projects like fixing roofs and building handicapped-accessible ramps to smaller ones like cleaning, landscaping and painting.
"When you do something for someone it gives you a connection to them," said Mary Beth Jacobs, another crew member with Deemer staining the porch.
His Work His Way got started in Conneaut Lake in 2009 through Nate Alsdorf, the former youth director of Conneaut Lake's High Street Community Church. Alsdorf took a youth group to Pittsburgh to help with The Pittsburgh Project, which helps families with needed home repairs, Krepps said. Upon the group's return, the groundwork was laid to start a similar program in the Conneaut Lake area.
His Work His Way at Conneaut Lake has had some significant impacts on its operation during the past 15 months or so.
The first was the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which meant His Work, His Way didn't do any organized projects last year. With the pandemic easing this year, projects were lined up, but the price of building materials and related supplies has jumped.
"While we didn't do work in 2020 our (bank) balance was OK because we didn't really spend money on supplies (last year), but their cost has risen," Krepps said.
The group also gets donations of supplies from the community and area businesses.
"When we see a need or hear of a need, we cover it," Tommy Donegan, the organization's treasurer, said.
Another significant impact was the passing of Randy Deemer in May 2020 due to cancer. Deemer, along with Krepps, helped plan and direct the His Work His Way projects. Deemer and Krepps were long-time friends and school principals in the Crawford County area.
"It was his passion," Tricia Deemer said of her husband's work with the organization. "It was something he wanted to do and enjoyed doing with Mike. They would work together on the planning."
Volunteering in service of others serves as a model — especially for children, according to the volunteers.
"It shows an example of the way to do unto others," Jacobs said. "Randy was very dear to our hearts."
Tom Godsen of Fombell has volunteered with other mission projects in the Beaver and Butler county areas, but has come to Conneaut Lake this week to assist with one of the roofing projects. He's a fellow retired educator and life-long friend of Deemer's as they grew up in the Ellwood City area.
"I felt the need to come and give some assistance," Godsen said. "It's a way to honor Randy's memory and I thought I'd do something by helping out."
Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.
You can help
His Work His Way Inc. of Conneaut Lake is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian ministry that provides support for community members in need of home repairs who are unable to meet those needs without assistance. It also supports nonprofit community organizations in need of assistance. All of board, laborers and kitchen help are volunteers. All donations are tax deductible and used to meet the needs of the senior citizens and/or disabled applicants who are assisted. Donations may be sent to His Work His Way Inc., P.O. Box BB, Conneaut Lake, Pa. 16316.