No break this spring for Church Hill volunteers

Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-29 18:35:04-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR)--Strangers on a mission to make one inner city community a little bit better for a children in the Church Hill community.

More than a dozen college students from Randolph Macon College and Elon University rolled up their sleeves all week-long doing outreach and mission work.

The spring breakers found themselves sprucing up a playground and volunteering one on one with students at Chimborazo Elementary school. The group joined forces with the program C.H.A.T. or Church Hill Activities and Tutoring and brought a message to kids in the community.

"The message is there are good people out there. You don't have to be all the stuff, the negative stuff they see, .they don't have to be that," Randolph Macon student Kimble Marshall said.

"I just want to show them there is more out here for them. I want to hopefully to be that light, even if it's just for a week,” Randolph Macon Freshman Kenny Daniel said.

East End Fellowship's co-pastor Corey Widmer, who lives in the neighborhood, hopes the students' service will prompt others to look past what they think the inner city is and instead get involved.

That's exactly how he spent his spring break days when he was a student at UVA. Widmer says the time spent in Mississippi doing the same kind of mission work inspired him to do what he's doing today.

He chose to move his family to Church Hill and has been living there for 8 years. He's been a pastor for five years at the inner city church which holds services at the Robinson Theatre.

Widmer has seen firsthand how this kind of community service can steer kids from a street way of life

"When we look at our city we see a divided, segregated place. When God looks down on our city he doesn't see these divisions. He sees people and he sees a community. In God's view we all need each other,” he said.

The college students have been working in Church Hill all week. They could have spent their break anywhere, but say their goal is to be the change they want to see in this community.

"When you go in and intentionally try to be the difference you're hoping to see then that can be a model for other people to follow,” Doug Arms explained.

"It makes me feel like I'm part of the solution. We are all part of the puzzle to solving the world's problems."

The college students participated in tutoring sessions with the kids, helped start an urban garden and took a bus tour of the area.

They say though they were on a mission to give back, they walked away from the week feeling gratified, enriched and thankful for the experience.