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Reflecting on Salkehatchie Summer Service

by Erin Mode

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Erin Mode has beening attending the Huntersville Salkehatchie Camp since 2004. She and her family attend Lafayette St United Methodist Church in Shelby, NC. This essay describes Erin's first Salkehatchie experience.

It was the middle of my summer before ninth grade and instead of sleeping until twelve like most of my peers, I was awake at six o'clock in the morning. As I got dressed, I started to wonder what exactly it was that I was about to do. This was my first day at Salkehatchie Summer Service and I was heading out with a group of seven youth and two adults to help upgrade Mrs. Baxter's house. I was about to go work until five o'clock that night in the hot sun for a complete stranger, and I paid to do this! Was I crazy?

Mrs. Baxter lived in a small, run-down neighborhood in Huntersville, North Carolina. Her house was cluttered with years of junk that she did not have the heart to throw out and it was almost impossible to move from room-to-room with ease. Her roof was leaking in multiple places and her kitchen was covered in grease and bugs. Her yard was extremely muddy and in order to walk from her truck to her front door she had put down crates and rugs. Over time, the crates and rugs had sunk and she had covered them with more crates and more rugs.

"I was about to go work until five o'clock that night in the hot sun for a complete stranger, and I paid to do this! Was I crazy?"

Erin Mode

We worked ten hours a day for one week to make Mrs. Baxter's house the best we could. Over the week, my site team patched up the roof and replaced the shingles, built her a brand new kitchen, painted and cleaned up the entire house, and constructed a small deck that allowed her to walk to her truck without wading in the mud. When Mrs. Baxter hugged me on that last day, I knew that I had affected her life almost as much as she had affected mine.

Showing off her poise and grace

I have attended Salkehatchie Summer Service every summer since and have had the opportunity to help many other homeowners like Mrs. Baxter. This mission camp had such a great influence on my life and those that I helped that I convinced my youth leader to host a Salkehatchie camp at our church. Salkehatchie Shelby is the second Salkehatchie Summer Service camp in North Carolina and there are forty camps in South Carolina. This past summer, forty youth and adults came to Shelby for the first Salkehatchie Shelby camp and rebuilt three homes in this community. I was on the committee that helped to pick out the houses and do all the pre-camp work. During the week, my job as the photographer allowed me to see the houses transform miraculously. It was amazing to be able to offer other youth and homeowners experiences that I have had.

Over the years, Salkehatchie has become my favorite thing in the world. It has opened my eyes to reality and given me the opportunity to help others. There are Mrs. Baxters filling up every community and I will continue to reach out and help the best I can.