Paying to work hard at ETCH 'no sweat' for 'Know Sweat' volunteers

By Greg Miller
STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

   While most people work with the expectation of receiving a paycheck, a group of young people is paying for the privilege of working this week at East Tennessee Christian Home. Each of the volunteers paid $135 to work at the facility, which is located on Allen Ave.
   "The volunteer group has made an immediate impact on the local residents of the home who are impressed that young people their age would raise their own money for support and spend their summer working hard for others," said Leon Dutka, director of ETCH.
   The young people not only pay to work, they do so with a "real positive" attitude, according to Christ in Youth's No Sweat's program director, Bill Baumgardner. "They know ahead of time that they're going to serve," he said.
   Know Sweat is a division of Christ in Youth (CiY), an organization of young people from Christian churches around the country. Approximately 65 youth and sponsors worked Monday through Thursday on a variety of projects, including painting the main building, building forms and pouring concrete for dumpster pads and ramps. The workers have also cut away large amounts of brush and small trees from the wooded areas surrounding the campus.
   Three hundred and eight volunteers worked on projects in Elizabethton, Johnson City and Greeneville. The workers hail from numerous states, including Nebraska, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Illinois and Ohio.
   Baumgardner says one of the goals is that some of the young people who volunteer will eventually work in the ministry full time. "This is an entry-level program," Baumgardner said. "We hope it flushes out leadership in some of the students so the adults can encourage them to continue doing those kinds of things."
   After working on their first projects, many of the Know Sweat volunteers sign up for other projects. "The groups that come keep coming again and again," Baumgardner said. "That's why we keep on growing. We grew 50 percent since last summer."
   A group of about 35 young people from Westerville Christian Church, Westerville, Ohio, have been working at ETCH this week. A.J. DeVille, on her first No Sweat project, enjoyed the experience. "I really like it," she said. "It's been a really great experience."
   A rising senior at Westerville North High School, DeVille believes her experience with the No Sweat project will "affect my whole work ethic. I think it will affect my outlook on how I do my work and my jobs from now on."
   B.J. Dinsmore, who recently graduated from Westerville South High School, says his first No Sweat project has resulted in "a pretty awesome experience." The projects can "show the work of God and show how good of a servant He can be."
   Dinsmore believes the project will help him "to work harder and persevere to help me get to bigger and better things."
   Kendall Freeman, the minister of students at Westerville Christian Church, says his first No Sweat project has been "quite an experience." The young people from Westerville Christian "have thoroughly impressed me with the way they are going at the work. They are going at it wholeheartedly."
   Freeman notes that the young people have accomplished their work in spite of such obstacles as sweat bees, spiders and bugs, as well as vines growing on the trees. "They do it with everything they've got," he said. "I'm challenged by that. They are motivated, driven to demonstrate the way that Christ serves and demonstrate God's love."
   According to the CiY Web site (www.ciy.com), the organization "exists to connect young people with Jesus Christ. Our Mission at Christ In Youth is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to experience God and His Word in a way that transforms their lives."
   In addition to service projects, CiY sponsors other year-round events, such as weekend conferences, summer conferences, junior high programming, short-term missions, winter ski conferences, discipleship retreats, the World Evangelism Conference and the National Youth Leader's Convention.
   Baumgardner, now in his fourth year as director of the CiY No Sweat program, served for three years as Director of Campus Events at Kentucky Christian College (KCC). He has been responsible for their "Summer in the Son" program, as well as their "Jr. High Challenge" program. He holds a master's degree in ministry from KCC and a bachelor's degree from Great Lakes Bible College, where he graduated magna cum laude.
   A total of 1,700 volunteers spent 10 weeks working on projects in Tennessee, Mexico, Ohio and Missouri.
   CiY's No Sweat program is now taking bids for projects for next summer. For more information, call Baumgardner at 417-781-2273.