Teens from across the country come to Portland to help the homel - KPTV - FOX 12

Teens from across the country come to Portland to help the homeless

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A group of teenagers from all over the country are in Portland working on construction projects in several homeless communities.

The work is all being done as a part of a mission trip organized by the Agape Church of Christ called Agape Blitz.

The program started in 2007, and now teams of high school students come to Portland just for this purpose. The teens learn a lot of practical skills, but what they say they remember when they go home are the relationships they build that touch their hearts.

The teens visited the Hazelnut Grove camp in north Portland Thursday. Alyssa Burdine was one of a few dozen teenagers from all over the country helping the residents of the camp, painting and sealing some of the single-room homes people have built there.

“We’re painting the trim right now this red. We came here a few days ago and painted the green, and we’re also inside painting lacquer as a seal,” she explained. “This is their bath house so moisture wouldn’t get inside.”

Burdine is from Federal Way, Washington, but others have come from as far away as Missouri and Oklahoma.

The residents at hazelnut grove were very grateful and many were working right alongside the teenagers who came to help.

It was a partnership that may seem unusual but is already leaving a lasting mark.

“It means a lot, like ‘Whoa!’” Hazelnut Grove resident Marvin Ross said. “Just to know that people care enough to come down here and show us that care and concern.”

Every hammer of a nail or piece of siding that went up was a lesson for those on both sides. They may be from very different backgrounds, but in the end, they’re not so different after all.

“What I always hear from youth groups is when they come down and they work with people, they talk with them - we’re going to have lunch together - one of the things they get is they see the human side of houselessness,” lead pastor Ron Clark said. “They come away feeling very connected, feeling like they’re really doing something important.”

This work isn’t just being done at Hazelnut Grove.  The teens are also helping out at Dignity Village in northeast Portland and a new women’s community in the Kenton area.

For more information on the Agape Blitz, visit the church’s website at AgapeCOC.com.

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