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Catholic HEART Work Camp In Pensacola Area This Week

Catholic HEART Workcamp

  More than 100 teenagers from around the country are in Pensacola this week, as part of the area’s inaugural Catholic HEART Workcamp. 

The original Workcamp began in Orlando in 1993 with 100 participants. It’s grown to more than 14,000 as of this year. Bringing a group to Pensacola was the dream of two Gulf Breeze residents, Julie Baltz and Courtney Fell. 

“My co-manager Julie Baltz was looking online for something along those lines 2-3 years ago for her kids to do,” said Fall. “And she wanted to do it locally.”

Plans are for work teams to revitalize about two dozen homes in the Brownsville area, and to do some sprucing up in the Westside Garden District.

“Going to different residents’ homes, and doing anything from painting the entire of their home, down to replacing simple things like weather-stripping on their doors,” Fell said. 

Partnering with CHWC is Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, which selected Brownsville and Westside. Director Tim Evans says the local organizers had already known about Habitat’s revitalization and evaluation skills. 

“And that’s really what got us started working together,” Evans said. “Within two of the neighborhoods where Pensacola Habitat has done quite a bit of condition surveys so we could identify the properties for [CHWC].”

Home revitalization is a relatively new feature for Habitat, after decades of building homes from the ground up for low-income homebuyers. Evans says one advantage is getting their talents inside more established neighborhoods, where oftentimes investments left decades ago. 

“Going in and working with residents, cleaning up and freshening up,” said Evans. “I know the group is doing some painting – often called the ‘Brush with Kindness’ – just to make things look nicer.”

Other teams will run summer camps for the City of Pensacola at the Fricker and Woodland Heights Resource Centers. There will also be teams working with Manna Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes, and Ebonwood Community Center.

Participants will be staying at Gulf Breeze Middle School and at nearby St. Ann Catholic Church. Organizer Courtney Fell likens the event to a “traveling circus.” 

“They’ll be pulling into town with all their tools, all the supplies they’re going to need,” said Fell. “They’ve got a full kitchen staff; everybody that’s going to do the programming while the kids have down time. It’s really impressive.”

More information on the Catholic HEART Workshop is available at www.heartworkcamp.com.