Work Camp and Volunteer Opportunities for 2016
Following a planning meeting on November 15, two week-long work camps are scheduled for 2016. During the week of March 14-18 (which is Spring Break for the University and Iowa City Schools) we will be working at the former post office in Coralville to get it ready for and to help with moving the Ecumenical Food Pantry to a new location there. We will be working mainly out-of-doors at the Village Community during the week of June 20-24.
The Coralville Ecumenical Food Pantry, CEFP, is one of the few social services located in Coralville. It was started a few years ago by six Coralville congregations including First Christian. Darrel Courtney and Mike Alber are First Christian’s representatives on the governing board. Currently it shares a building with New Life (Christian Reformed) Church, and although the church’s lease has been extended on a month-by-month basis with 90 days minimum notice, that building will be torn down and the site redeveloped. We expect that the food pantry will be able to stay in its current location for a while beyond March 1, but the Coralville City Council has agreed to lease the old post office building to the Food Pantry Board for a minimum of 3 years. It is likely that in three or more years the old post office will be razed and the area will be redeveloped into a 9 multi-story commercial-residential complex. CEFP will need to remodel and outfit the former P.O. to be the food pantry and then prepare for another, hopefully more permanent location. The roof is expected to need only minor repairs. The 2350 sq. ft. building has a concrete floor covered with tile, two restrooms, furnace and a/c, flat roof, and loading dock. It will need a new sink put in which will require cutting into a concrete floor. It needs painting and probably some floor covering repair or replacement, as well as the removal of a P.O. Box wall. There are a variety of organizations who are willing to help CEFP refurbish the Post Office, and it is not our intent to ask CEFP to wait until our work camp week to accomplish those tasks. Already, some portable office walls and office furniture have been donated and moved into the P.O. building. A construction trades class is willing to remove and rebuild some wood framed walls. Mike Alber arranged for a concrete contractor to donate the pouring of a pad for a walk-in cooler/freezer and the concrete products company to donate the concrete. The cooler/freezer is on site and needs to be assembled. At this time, we have been assured that there will be work for us to do, but we do not know precisely what that work will be. Some of the final tasks will be laying glue-down commercial carpet, assembling metal shelving, and transporting food and putting it on the shelving/in the cooler/freezer.
The Village Community is well known to most of us. It is a group of intellectually handicapped youth and adults and their families who own about ten acres, including a program building, a farmhouse, and a big red barn between Iowa City and West Branch. We helped the Village Community out last year with 1,000 hours of labor and $5,000. If you go to their website you find a list of current programs which include, athletics, music, art, and theatre. Ann Brownsberger, who had been Director of Handicare (a preschool for handicapped and other children in Coralville) for 17 years now works fulltime with the Village Community. We all had a great time last summer, and I have already talked with our dance caller about doing another barn dance. Most of the work would be outside- trees, maintenance, etc. and our out-of-town workers could again stay at the reservoir campground and our local congregations be involved in providing hospitality as well as working a few hours or all week at the Village Community. You’ll see a picture of us on their website at: http://www.thevillagecommunity.org. Since John McKinstry will be retiring at the end of March, Tom Burns (who has been a work camp leader with us for many years) will be the lead organizer for the June work camp.