Traveling volunteers aid Children’s Home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; &uot;God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped his people.&uot; (Hebrews 6:10) &045; Quote on the Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service Web site

Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service (RVICS) are retired Christian couples living in travel trailers or motor homes and serving the Lord through an organized ministry.

The volunteers donate their labor to nonprofit agencies &045; including, in recent days, the Natchez Children’s Home.

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Executive Director Nancy Hungerford said the volunteers also worked there in 2001.

Dick and Edna Stevens of Traverse, Mich., Paul and Nancy Wendling of Zionsville, Penn., Keith and Linda Wyeth of Ithaca, Mich., and the group’s leaders, Lorin and Dorothy Dennis of Mitchell, S.D., have been restoring the interior of the children’s home for two weeks.

By the time the group finishes its work at the children’s home, which should take about a week, they will have provided 475 hours of volunteer labor.

The men work 31/2 days per week at six hours per day and the women work four days per week at three hours per day.

The Stevens became RVICS volunteers 12 years ago after, while on vacation in Arizona, they met a couple involved with the organization.

After Dick Stevens retired from the automobile business, he and his wife, Edna, called the group’s national headquarters in Smithville, Texas, to join the organization.

Since Lorin Dennis grew up in an orphanage, working at the children’s home has been very special for him.

&uot;You see things with the children here and what the people are doing with them, trying to give them something normal,&uot; Dennis said.

The children also remind his wife of what they leave behind. &uot;That’s the biggest handicap &045; leaving the grandchildren,&uot; Dorothy Dennis said of being on the road with RVICS.

Joseph Mitchell, director of development at the children’s home, said the RVICS couples &uot;have made a difference in our ability to care for the children.&uot;

&uot;It makes the remodeling of the rooms affordable,&uot; Mitchell said.

Along with providing free labor, the group supplies the tools for the job, while the host agency provides the materials.

The volunteers are told a year in advance where they will be going but not what work will be needed.

While the volunteers are not assigned to projects by their specialties, by chance someone in each group always has the skills they need, Lorin Dennis said.

&uot;You learn a lot as you go,&uot; Edna Stevens said of the different projects.

When the couples are assigned to a project, they usually do not know the people with whom they will be working. But, Keith Wyeth said, &uot;it takes no time to get acquainted because we have a common bond.&uot;

Keith and Linda Wyeth joined the organization after they met another couple while camping one summer. The Wyeths were given a pamphlet about the program and have been volunteering for three years. In that time, they have worked at a ranch that was part of a ministry, Christian schools, conference centers and retirement homes &045; all &uot;Christ-centered&uot; agencies, Paul Wyeth said.

Paul and Nancy Wendling first learned of RVICS when they brought a Bible study class to Florida Bible College, where the group’s volunteers were working on a project.

&uot;In five years, there have been no two places alike,&uot; said the Wendling’s about the projects they have worked on.

For more information, visit the group’s Web site at