The City of Valdosta will welcome approximately 207 youth and adult volunteers from around the country as they spend June 26-July 2 of their summer vacations serving the citizens of Valdosta through the labor of love event known as the Southern Hospitality Workcamp.
The 2016 workcamp marks the 10th year the city has hosted this event, which brings in youth to perform basic home repairs, painting and minor construction, at no cost to local elderly or disabled homeowners. To date, the event is credited with repairing 301 substandard local homes (inclusive of the 2016 sites) and yielding a nearly $2 million economic investment in our community through capital improvements to housing stock, the value of volunteer housing, their spending in our community and the value of their labor.
The “campers” will arrive on Sunday, June 26, to get situated in their temporary living quarters at Valdosta Middle School. They will spend the weekdays making repairs—which includes handrails, decks, wheelchair ramps and exterior painting—to 19 houses in the city limits. The 2016 workcamp represents campers from eight different states, as far away as Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
“These campers pay $400 each just for the ‘privilege’ of attending workcamp, in addition to the travel expenses of getting here,” said Mayor John Gayle. “In addition to their ministry to our local homeowners, they collect hundreds of cans of food for our local Second Harvest Food Bank—another selfless act of kindness they share with our community. We are proud and grateful to host these servants in our community.”
The home sites were selected by the City of Valdosta Neighborhood Development Division based on qualifying criteria. The homes must be owner occupied, in need of minor repairs and must be located within one of the city’s designated revitalization areas. Homeowners must also meet the age or disability requirement, and they must also meet the income criteria set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“The Southern Hospitality Workcamp is an inspiring and life-changing program that the City of Valdosta is honored to host each year, and one that has a positive impact on not just our homeowners, but on each and every person involved in the workcamp event,” said City Manager Larry Hanson. “We are once again proud to work with our official co-sponsor, Lowe’s Distribution Center of Valdosta, in meeting a vital need in our community.”
In addition to Lowe’s Distribution Center, the Valdosta City Schools System, Group Cares, Wild Adventures, Second Harvest Food Bank of Valdosta and the Valdosta Lowe’s Retail Store play critical roles in the success of the effort. Local Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s Distribution Center staff members also serve as site coaches for the event.
The annual Southern Hospitality Workcamp helps to stop the deterioration of valuable housing stock and places the city closer to accomplishing its goal of eliminating all substandard housing by the year 2020. For more information, contact Public Information Officer Sementha Mathews at 229-259-3548.