Youth group changing world one step at a time

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 2, 2000

Natchez’s population will swell by more than 200 for a week in mid-July as youth from around the South converge on the city to do their part to change the world, one step at a time. For the second time in three years, the World Changers, a Southern Baptist youth mission group, will visit Natchez July 15-22 to take part in community service and fellowship activities.

When the group came in July 1998, they worked on 17 renovation projects for area low-income homeowners.

This time around, the members will be working on 17 full-time projects and another seven part-time projects, said Dale Little, missions director for the Adams-Union Baptist Association.

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The students will be doing &uot;anything from roofing to siding, sheet rocking and building a handicapped ramp … a variety of things,&uot; Little said.

&uot;We have to select jobs that would be safe for the kids to do.&uot;

Volunteer construction supervisors — the adults — will be there to make sure nothing happens while the teenagers are working, Little said.

Still, it’s not work I think I’d ever have known how to do when I was a teenager — much less now.

To participate in World Changers, the students take part in Bible study and perform a pre-project to learn the basics of the renovation work they’ll be doing.

It may be free labor for Natchez, but these teens are spending $225 each of their own money to come on the trip.

They will be staying at the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church, and they’ll be eating their meals here and buying construction materials here.

Two years ago, that translated into a $145,000 economic impact for the City of Natchez, Little said.

What that means is that even if it’s not your leaky roof or broken window the youth are fixing up, you still benefit from their visit, which brings new dollars into the community.

&uot;It made a big difference,&uot; Little said.

But in order to work on all of its 24 projects, the World Changers group needs the community’s help.

The group needs to raise $30,000 this year to complete all of its projects.

And Little hopes to continue fund-raising so that his mission group can do more projects in Natchez year-round.

The City of Natchez Planning Department helped the Adams-Union Baptist Association coordinate the selection of homeowners for the projects, and the World Changers actually chose each project.

Consideration was given first to applicants who are low-income families or people with disabilities.

&uot;We want to make sure we’re helping the most needy people,&uot; Little said.

The city is helping the World Changers with in-kind services, from staff planning to garbage collection for the construction materials once the projects are completed.

Adams County, the Southern Baptist Convention and other local churches and organizations are also contributing money and services.

To contribute a tax deductible donation to the World Changers project, contact the Adams-Union Baptist Association at 139 D’Evereux Drive, Natchez, Miss., 39120, or by phone at 442-5339.

World Changers cannot accept or promote contributions from industries connected with gambling, tobacco or alcohol.

Kerry Whipple is a senior staff writer at The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3562 or by e-mail at