Last updated: July 01. 2014 2:43PM - 1565 Views
Aaron K. Nelson anelson@civitasmedia.com



The crew lines up for a ceremony to bless the house. Sandra Gearheart, wearing gray in the center of the window, is holding her dog because he kept trying to drink the holy water.
The crew lines up for a ceremony to bless the house. Sandra Gearheart, wearing gray in the center of the window, is holding her dog because he kept trying to drink the holy water.
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PRINTER — For Sandra Gearheart, home is where a lot of heart is.


Volunteers from Project H.O.P.E. made their annual trip from Pittsburgh, Pa., on a mission to repair homes in Eastern Kentucky. Coordinating with the St. Vincent Mission and David School, the group takes dozens of Pennsylvanians from St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church, ages ranging from 17 to 77, and buses them to our region to help those in need.


Team leader Dave Gross says Project H.O.P.E. has been making these trips for 40 years—longer than most of their current volunteers have been alive. The participants are mostly high school juniors and seniors, who are given a look at life outside their home city while learning valuable home improvement skills.


Throughout that four decade history, Sandra Gearheart’s house has been their most ambitious project to date. Rather than replacing a floor or a staircase, the home was beyond any hope for repair, so instead, it was bulldozed. Volunteers transformed the property from a flat field on the morning of Monday, June 23, to a complete one-bedroom structure with a foundation, four walls, and a roof by Friday, June 27. Gross says they only use materials purchased from local suppliers.


Fighting back tears, Sandra says she cannot express her gratitude for all their hard work. “These people are truly on a mission for God,” she says over the din of hammers and saws. “God is working here.”


After a ceremony to bless the house, Sandra shared emotional with the volunteers. While some were inside, signing the inside of the wall with their wishes of love and good fortune, others were still on the roof, nailing down the last few shingles. All around the work site, people were sweating, but they were also always smiling.


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