BALTIC - With the Jackson Five playing on a nearby radio, the sounds of hammering, sawing and drilling melded in harmony in Jayne Benson-Dunn's backyard in Baltic Wednesday.
Eli Yarmy, 11, was the youngest of the 30 or so church volunteers helping to give Benson-Dunn's home a much-needed upgrade.
Yarmy and other members of a mission team from the First United Methodist Church of downstate Royal Oak joined with those from Sacred Heart Church of Calumet, Grace United Methodist Church of Houghton and Hope Fellowship Church of Houghton for a volunteer project hosted by the Amazing Grace Ministries of the Keweenaw.
Jane Nordberg/Daily Mining Gazette
Volunteers from church groups install a wall for a new back entryway at a home in Baltic Wednesday. The project has brought together volunteers from five church groups, including one from downstate Royal Oak.
It was the second summer of working on the project for most of the volunteers, including Yarmy.
"It's cool that we're building a deck for this lady to help her," he said as he measured lumber. "There are a lot of people here and I'm getting to know even the people from my own church better."
Amazing Grace executive director Julie Crowl said the Benson-Dunn home renovation was typical of the project her group likes to participate in.
"Our mission is to help people who fall through the cracks," she said.
While Benson-Dunn's home was habitable before last year's improvements, she said, it was far from ideal.
"She would sit in her living room in her winter coat, it was that cold inside," Crowl said.
As a result, last summer's project included installing new insulation board and drywall as well as a bathroom renovation.
This year, the group tore down a deteriorating shed/entryway to the home to make way for a new unheated mud room. Crowl was awaiting siding Wednesday from a supplier, which would be installed by an eager group of young volunteers standing on scaffolding on the other side of the house.
"We're also negotiating for a price on some used windows," she said. "Not sure when those will arrive, but we desperately need them."
Yarmy's father, Mike, headed up the Royal Oak church's mission team both summers, and said he was not surprised when many of last year's volunteers signed up for a second round.
"A lot of the older kids wanted to do it again, they learned so much and had such a good time," he said. "At this point, it's like visiting family."
Crowl said the project was coming along nicely.
"We're blessed to be out here with good weather and great people all working to try to make a difference," she said. "It doesn't get better than that."
Volunteers are welcome. For directions or for more information, call Julie Crowl at 370-7145.