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Youth on mission spruce up Warren Co. properties

Among the dozens of YouthWorks mission teenagers helping spruce up the exterior of The Pillars July 9 are (left to right): Meghan Thomas, Morgan Jenkins, Lexi Rivera, Andrew O'Hara, and Megan Iannello. All are from northern Ohio. The YouthWorks teens, a total of about 400 over seven weeks this summer, are fixing up properties of people in distressed circumstances as well as public sites.

Among the dozens of YouthWorks mission teenagers helping spruce up the exterior of The Pillars July 9 are (left to right): Meghan Thomas, Morgan Jenkins, Lexi Rivera, Andrew O'Hara, and Megan Iannello. All are from northern Ohio. The YouthWorks teens, a total of about 400 over seven weeks this summer, are fixing up properties of people in distressed circumstances as well as public sites. Photo by Thom Randall.

Octogenarian Pat Wassel looked out of a window at The Pillars, towards dozen of teenagers painting the siding and trim on her aging Main St. estate which hosts a variety of local enterprises in its former motel units.

“It’s wonderful what these kids are doing — I can’t believe it,” she said, watching the youths scrape and paint. “With taxes and other expenses, i can’t afford to fix the place up like this — it’s incredible to see them work like this.”

About three dozen teen members of two churches in southern Ohio, representing the mission organization YouthWorks, were at work July 9 on Wassel’s sprawling downtown property.

From mid-June through the first week in August, about 400 teenagers — primarily from the midwestern and eastern U.S. — will have participated in the week-long work sessions in northern Warren County.

The group has been fixing up both private and public properties in the area.

In Warrensburg, YouthWorks crews have painted the First Presbyterian Church parsonage, and helped fill in sunken graves at the local cemetery.

Warrensburg Deputy Supervisor John Alexander said the teenagers’ work in town was much appreciated. Alexander bought a YouthWorks crew pizzas July 3 after they finished clearing brush — a full dumpster’s worth — at the town Echo Lake park and beach.

“It’s amazing what these kids accomplished,” he said. “What a testimony for our nation's youth, that people volunteer like this.”

The YouthWorks teens have also worked twice per week in gardens on local public sites in Warrensburg — mulching, weeding and planting, according to Teresa Whalen of Warrensburg Beautification.

The young volunteers have tilled and planted in an expansion of the local community garden, plus fixed up a composting system there. They’ve also cleared a trail at the local Riverside Park which hosts the local farmers’ market — and they’ve attended to the decorative garden at the Warrensburg Elementary School, she said.

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