Hammers were pounding and smiles were bright as a group of 32 members of the South Congregational Church of South Glastonbury, Connecticut, volunteered with Midcoast Habitat for Humanity. This is the third time Youth in Mission has traveled here to volunteer with the organization.

“Our affiliate hosts many teams each year but this is our largest to date,” commented Tia Anderson, executive director, of Mid-Coast Habitat for Humanity. “It is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to experience Habitat, visit the Midcoast and give back, by helping create much needed affordable housing.”

The group is called Youth in Mission, and is a youth group of sorts. There are three different sections under the Youth in Mission group, that go on mission trips that range by ages. The group in the Midcoast this year is the junior/senior group and the ages range from 16-18. The program has been going for over 30 years, and Paul DeMaio, the head of this group, said it has only grown since its start. DeMaio said this experience is very important for the kids, by allowing them to see how service is important and can be fun. The group gets on-site at about 8:30 a.m., and they leave around 4 p.m. every afternoon, getting in a full day of learning and building. They arrived on Sunday, June 24, will work all week and depart Saturday.

After volunteering with several Habitat for Humanity affiliates over the years, DeMaio recently took a job in construction with a local Connecticut Habitat affiliate. DeMaio is hooked, and says the kids really do enjoy the trips, and all of them can’t wait to go every year because it is part of their summer. In order to be eligible to go on the trip, the students must complete two service projects during the year, as well as two fundraisers to help pay for the trip.

DeMaio said he loved bringing teams here because Anderson and Peter Fagonde, the construction supervisor, have the projects well prepared and are ready to put the team to work immediately upon their arrival, which helps make the experience enjoyable and rewarding.

This year, the group is working in Warren, framing the walls for two houses and raising the walls of one. “The groups love to see the progress at the end of their week,” said Fagonde. “It takes a fair amount of preparation to keep everyone busy on the construction site all week, especially a group this large, but we do our best and they appreciate it. We make it the best Habitat experience possible.”

For more information on volunteering or applying for a Habitat house, call Midcoast Habitat for Humanity at 236-6123 or e-mail tia@midcoasthabitat.org.

For more general information about Midcoast Habitat for Humanity visit midcoasthabitat.org.