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Doors of Hope

Youth group builds faith, fixes homes in Beattyville

Morris Community High School student Jackie DesLauriers cuts wood for the new wheelchair ramp she and members of the Immaculate Conception High School Youth Group built in Beattyville, Ky., in July.
Morris Community High School student Jackie DesLauriers cuts wood for the new wheelchair ramp she and members of the Immaculate Conception High School Youth Group built in Beattyville, Ky., in July.

"Are you going to give me a bedroom door?" a child from Beattyville, Ky., asked a group from Morris last month.

When students from the Immaculate Conception High School Youth Group were done, however, he didn't just have a new door. Everyone in the child's home had new-found privacy and much more.

Fourteen Morris Community High School students from the youth group and five chaperons were able to assist five families in need in Kentucky last month. Through about $2,500 in local donations, they were able to complete projects ranging from hanging ceiling fans and bedroom doors to building wheelchair ramps and porch stairs.

Chaperon Nick Doerfler said that little boy and his family were very excited to have their own bedroom doors.

"When we put the door on her bedroom, she started crying she was so excited," said Brogan Connor, senior at MCHS, about the little boy's mother.

Connor also remembered returning to the family's trailer the following day and seeing "Do Not Disturb" signs posted on the children's doors and other personalized signs on the mother's.

Beyond just hanging bedroom doors in that home, the teens also "touched up" the family's kitchen, fixed some plumbing issues and replaced outlets.

"We only spent one week of our lives down there, which wasn't really that big of a deal for us," MCHS senior Tim Gile said. "But it made such a big difference for everyone down there."

The Morris youth group has been assisting Kentucky families in need for more than 30 years. But this was the first year they worked through Cumberland Mountain Outreach (CMO), a faith based, non-profit organization for at-risk children in impoverished counties in the Appalachian Region.

Families in need apply for assistance through CMO, and the organization then prioritizes the needs, Doerfler explained. Groups like Morris' are then allowed to choose which projects they would like to work on.

"Our Kentucky Mission Trip was not just about how many homes we were able to refurbish, but about the immense effort the teens and adults put forth and their determination to give their all until all jobs were complete," said Sister Debrah Funfisnn of Immaculate Conception.

"They worked very, very hard in the heat, and with long hours, and never complained," she said. "They truly lived the gospel message of providing for the poor in their midst."

The group spent five days in Beattyville in the last full week of July, but were split into smaller sections throughout the week.

"It was an amazing experience just seeing what little work to us was not so little to other people," Connor said. "The little jobs that we could probably do just as a daily chore totally changed people lives. Brought tears to their eyes."

Gile and his team were able to help out a guy named Jake.

"He had a wheelchair ramp that was too steep, so we took that one down and built him a much bigger one that was less steep so it was easier to use," Gile said.

Jake's trailer also needed a new paint job and a set of stairs on his back porch.

"It was really cool to get to know him," said Sarah Roth, sophomore at MCHS. "He told us stories about what he'd done throughout his life."

Roth said she learned to be thankful for what she has, because even people who are less fortunate take pride in themselves.

Another high school senior on the trip had similar thoughts.

"It's important to help other people and to see how they live," Jackie DesLauriers said. "We learned everybody has their own story."

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