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Ministry extends helping hands
Georgia Fallaw
Georgia Fallaw of Rincon United Methodist Church operates a drill near a window Thursday. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
(The owner of the Clyo home) has called this group the answer to her prayers several times.
Michael Finn, pastor of Rincon United Methodist Church and Oconee Community Outreach worker

CLYO — More than two dozen sets of sweaty hands were doing the Lord’s work in Effingham County last week.

Oconee Outreach Opportunity deployed 15 people at various places that needed home repairs and/or landscaping work. Another 15 played a support role, delivering supplies and refreshments to those who frequently toiled in 100-degree temperatures.

Last year, Oconee Outreach Opportunity tackled a series of Effingham County projects in mid June.

“We moved it back to late May and early June to try to avoid the heat but it still found us,” Finn said with a chuckle.

The preponderance of the work at a home near Clyo involved the replacement of rotting wood. A new stoop, a new set of steps and handrails were added, too.

“We’ve put in some new siding on the home,” said Michael Finn, an outreach worker and the pastor at Rincon United Methodist Church. “We’ve also sealed up the windows so that they are weather tight. Even though it takes a very short time to say that, that’s been about a week’s job.”

Oconee Outreach Opportunity is headquartered in Jesup. A group from there arrived at Effingham County Methodist Campground on the afternoon of May 27 and worked at a few spots May 28 through Friday.

The occupant of the Clyo home is a grandmother who volunteers as the secretary at her church.

“Her pastor recommended her to me because of the work that needed to be done to her home,” Finn said. “Her grandmother stays with her a good bit of the time and that’s how we got connected there.”

Oconee Outreach Opportunity did some sub-floor work at a Goshen Road home. That project included the installation of a vinyl covering in a bathroom “where the floor was real bad.”

In addition, Family Promise of Effingham — an organization that helps the homeless get back on their feet — benefitted from Oconee Outreach Opportunity. 

“It has a transition unit, a duplex in Springfield,” Finn said. “We did pressure washing of the exterior there and painted some exposed wood to protect it. We also put in a flower bed and trimmed back hedges and limbs off of trees there.

“We also replaced a seal on a leaky toilet.”

The Family Promise unit that received the bulk of the work is currently being used by a single father with four children.

“We also have a group at (Effingham County United Methodist Campground) doing some mowing and picking up limbs and stuff to get ready for a camp meeting,” Finn said.

The founder of Oconee Outreach Opportunity, the Rev. Garth Duke-Barton of Jesup’s Epworth Methodist Church, joined Finn and five others at the Clyo site.

“We started doing this in 2003,” Duke-Barton said. “This is the second time (in Effingham County). The main camp occurs in Sandersville.

“That one has been going on (annually) the entire time and there have been others that are too numerous to mention.”

The youngest workers in the 2019 group were Duke-Barton’s 11-year-old twins. The oldest worker was 89.

Duke-Barton’s wife, Rebecca, also worked with the group. She is the pastor of Jesup’s First United Methodist Church.

Duke-Barton, who has 34 years of construction experience, said the recipients of his ministry’s labors are always grateful. Its workers benefit, too, he explained.

“They are learning some skills — things like learning to use a saw, a hammer, paint and all that — but they are also learning leadership skills,” he said. “They are learning how to be in charge, how to make decisions that they wouldn’t have had to make otherwise.”

The best part of participating in the outreach, however, is the satisfaction of assisting someone in need.

“(The owner of the Clyo home) has called this group the answer to her prayers several times,” Finn said.