Building A Difference, One Home At A Time

Registration Is Now Open For Woods Church Mission Trip


For 38 years, Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church has partnered with Habitat for Humanity through a weeklong mission trip, known as WoodsWork, where high school students and adult chaperones build or restore a house for the homeless as well as participate in community-building and faith-related activities.

This upcoming summer, the mission trip will return from June 22 to June 30 in Hartsville, South Carolina.

“Habitat’s mission is to build homes for people who have a hard time purchasing their first home … we help them by kind of accelerating the process,” said Elizabeth Cahoon, Woods Church director of youth ministry. “I don’t even know if sometimes those of us who don’t or haven’t had experience working with Habitat realize the gift that we’re giving because we’re accelerating that project for that family.”

While it often takes Habitat for Humanity several months or years to build a home with a limited number of volunteers, the WoodsWork mission trip compacts the process into just one week, leaving behind a completed house frame.

Youth chair Olivia Blake said not only does the family receive a house they can make into a home, but many of the families also help the team build the house.

“This experience provides them with amazing memories and helps them connect with the house more deeply,” Blake said.

Blake, a Severna Park High School senior, has been a part of the WoodsWork mission trip and planning committee for the past two years and is the chair of the committee for her third year of WoodsWork.

Another Severna Park senior, Ryan Kohler, is looking forward to her second year of WoodsWork after a great first experience.

“I just thought it would be a really rewarding experience, which it was,” Kohler said. “I didn't even know most of the people when I went on the trip, [but] we were still able to come together and make a house in a week.”

The mission trip also offers other opportunities for participants, including daily programs, discussions of faith and recreational activities.

Cahoon said WoodsWork is a faith-centered mission trip in the Christian faith, but she added that the trip is welcoming to students of all religious backgrounds.

“Somehow, maybe it’s God’s grace, I don’t know, everyone just feels welcome,” Cahoon said. “I think it’s a testament to having youth lead it.”

The WoodsWork committee, made up of 13 students and six adults, has been meeting over the past couple of months to prepare for the summer trip, which Cahoon calls “a beacon of hope” in the community.

“When the week is over, we all feel like we are part of one big family,” said Blake, who hopes to encourage more students to sign up this year. “The people you meet on Woodswork are truly lifelong friends.”

Woods Church will host two orientations and a car-wash fundraiser for the trip in the coming months. This year, Woods Church plans to offer new workshops to assist youth in fundraising for their individual trip payment.

“They all bond with each other, and kids from different schools become very trusting of each other,” said Vic Marone, head advisor of WoodsWork. “Seeing youth grow in a week's time is a very gratifying thing for me — that is where I get my joy.”

Those wishing to register for this summer’s WoodsWork can visit the mission trip’s Instagram, @woodsworkmd, for more information, or check out the Woods Church website.


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