MARSHALL—Twenty-two East Texas Baptist University students spent their spring break helping a single mom and daughter with much-needed repairs of their home.
The home, located in Marshall’s historic New Town Neighborhood, marked the inaugural neighborhood renewal initiative through ETBU’s construction management community service program.
ETBU President Blair Blackburn launched the initiative as a way for the university to give back to the community and improve residents’ quality of life. He and Provost Tommy Sanders led the first project.
Randy Babin, director of missions for Soda Lake Baptist Association, identified the family whose home needed repairs. The volunteer effort also included other ETBU staff and Carlton Davis, pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Marshall.
“The students learned how to do many things they never before encountered,” Blackburn said. “The leadership of Dr. Sanders and the hard work by the volunteers enabled our team to be successful and complete the entire home restoration in only five days.”
The team worked 10-hour days to replace the roof and install wind turbines, fascia and new siding. They also painted the home’s exterior and worked on landscaping.
“I was amazed by the capacity of our students to put their faith in action toward the goal of providing better housing for a family in Marshall,” Sanders said. “They sacrificed each day to make the end goal possible.”
Homeowner July Vences expressed appreciation for the volunteers’ work.
“My daughter and I were so blessed for what has been done, because I had no way of paying for the repairs that were needed,” Vences said.
“When the project started, I did not know that Dr. Blackburn was the president of ETBU. He and Dr. Sanders are very humble men, and they worked as hard as the students did each day.”
ETBU senior Clarissa Montoya of Wylie was glad to spend her spring break helping a single mother.
“I decided to help because I wanted to make an impact in our community,” Montoya said. “I know it can be hard for a single mom to provide what she wants for her daughter. By helping out, I knew this would be good for them, because it was one less worry for the mom.”
At first, the volunteers planned to patch any small leaks in the roof. But after Vences said every time it rained she had to place buckets in her daughter’s bedroom to collect the rainwater, the team decided to replace the whole roof. The roof passed its first test at midweek when rain fell.
“I don’t have to worry about roof leaks anymore,” Vences said. “I am very grateful to ETBU. To God be the glory.”
Although the initial project proved more extensive than originally anticipated, God helped the crew meet every challenge, Sanders noted.
“We were well beyond our capacity and experience. God was good to see us through,” he said. “I am appreciative of the support and visionary leadership of Dr. Blackburn in the call to action for our community.”
Also during spring break, other ETBU students served in Belize on a water-well project, participated in a Habitat for Humanity building project through the national Collegiate Challenge in Hattiesburg, Miss., and joined the Texas Baptist Student Ministry evangelistic Beach Reach ministry on South Padre Island.