Helping out on Mission Week: 700 volunteers paint, build, clean, landscape their way through week

Published on Friday, 20 June 2014 23:52 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

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This week, 700 volunteers spent their time painting, building, landscaping and cleaning the homes of low-income residents for area churches’ 26th annual Mission Week.

“It’s very nice,” said Teo Villegas, a 31-year-old father of seven. Villegas, his wife and children live in a 500-square-foot house. The team from Marvin United Methodist Church did extensive interior and exterior renovations.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without them,” Villegas said.

The Villegas family is one of about 20 families that benefitted from Mission Week.

They and the Mireles family were encouraged to apply with Marvin, which accepts applications all year long.

“I didn’t think they would follow through,” said Debbie Mireles, who lives in a house with her husband, two daughters and four grandchildren. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without them … I’m excited to be able to entertain guests and not worry about the floor falling through.”

Applicants are chosen based on need, with a preference for the elderly, said director of missions at Marvin, Melissa Brigman. St. Paul United Methodist and Pollard United Methodist are also involved, but Marvin’s budget alone for the program is $50,000.

Many of the volunteers have volunteered for years with the annual project, started in 1988 by Dr. Duane Andrews and the Rev. Randy Hageman.

Others have a personal connection for other reasons.

Four years ago Kristal Stafford’s father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. She drove all the way from Georgia to be a part of mission week this year in his honor.

“Dad was a huge believer in this mission work and saw it work miracles,” she said. “I am sorry I never got to do Mission Week with Dad, but it makes me feel closer to him to be here now.”