The United Methodist-related Helping Hands program was established by Metro Ministries of the Indianapolis East and West Districts to assist with the home repair problems of the elderly, the very needy and people with disabilities.
In addition, Helping Hands' goal includes repair work in churches and buildings associated with Metro Ministries. Shirley Lukens, now retired, was the first Helping Hands coordinator.
In 2007 the program was reintroduced by Metro Ministries with John Buswell selected as it's new coordinator. Buswell is assisted by a committee.
The program coordinates volunteers from churches of the East and West Districts with projects for lower income residents. It also coordinates youth work groups from across the United States.
Many Indianapolis area churches continue to be part of Helping Hands. Volunteers have renovated bathrooms and kitchens, built basement steps, replaced storm windows of all sizes and replaced lots of plumbing and electrical.
This year out of town youth groups have replaced roofs, repaired fences, installed a handicapped bathroom and did a lot of scraping and painting. These work teams pay their own way, and pay for most of the material used. Volunteers usually spend nights in sleeping bags on the fellowship hall floors of one of the hosting churches.
Volunteers prepare their own meals at the church, although they do love fast food. Youth are accompanied by adult leaders, many of whom are skilled and who certainly enjoy showing youth how to do things. In June Helping Hands had four work teams totaling 76 people. In July projects slow down with only one team with 35 volunteers.
Buswell has been asked a number of times why he is involved with this volunteer effort. He usually tells this little story. He says one day he stopped to talk to an elderly woman about her needed repairs. At the end of the visit she told him she had been praying and God just answered her prayers.
When one sees volunteers working and doing these good things - she was right - God did come to her. Everyone working with Helping Hands has been proud to be a part of the program.
For more information about Helping Hands, log on to www.indymetroumc.org.