For the past 27 years, volunteer teens and adults from St. Catherine’s have been coming to St. Augustine for week-long stays on two occasions each summer to perform a variety of tasks for the elderly and others in need.
There were nearly a dozen that mid-July afternoon performing a variety of activities at Bing’s home. Add to that workers from the Housing Partnership, and it was difficult to find a spot to talk that wasn’t occupied by someone painting a portion of the house, cutting lumber or performing one of a number of other tasks required to transform Bing’s home.
Titled Urban Plunge, it was not difficult to find volunteers from St. Catherine’s. They wore T-shirts which contain the Urban Plunge logo and the year they first joined the project. On the back of each were the words “Faith Without Action is Dead,” James 2:17.
For some Urban Plunge volunteers, this is not the first time they’ve worked on Bing’s home.
“My first year was four years ago,” Mullin said of her work at the West Cathedral Place property. “I helped paint the house green.”
Caitlin Murphy, now a teacher in the Duval County school system, started coming to St. Augustine with Urban Plunge in 1999 as a teen, and she recalls painting the house blue. Her first year as an adult volunteer was in 2003 or 2004, and she helped paint the living room purple and helped lay the carpet.
Of her participation in the program, she said, “I don’t know what it’s like not to volunteer.”
This summer upwards of 80 teen and adult volunteers have visited St. Augustine – one week in June and one week in July – to perform a variety of tasks including painting, assisting with home renovations, cleaning houses, doing yard work and performing other tasks.
“We kind of do everything,” Murphy admitted.
While in town,, the volunteers sleep at Cathedral Parish School. Shipley and Jay Heather are coordinators of the church’s Urban Plunge program.
When the transformation of Bing’s home is complete, it will have new siding, new windows, the addition of not only a bathroom, but also a front porch, and Bing will have something else she’s never had before – a washer and a dryer. In addition the home’s interior is getting a new coat of paint.