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Cross Connection does work on local homes

Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News Paulina Patyk saws boards while Makenzie Tuttle holds it steady on Wednesday as the two joined a group of volunteers with Carolina Cross Connection to build a new wheelchair ramp at the home of Philip Helms in Lincolnton.


Staff Writer


Since moving to his Pine Wood Drive residence a few years ago, Phillip Helms has been unable to utilize his power wheelchair, but thanks to Concord-based nonprofit group Carolina Cross Connection (CCC), his residence now has a new ramp for his ride.

“He never had the money (for a ramp) because of all the bills he has to pay,” Helms’ step-grandson Phillip Vrchota said.

While Helms is able to walk at times without the aid of a wheelchair or cane, arthritis and “bad knees” continuously steal his energy.

The 76-year-old also has a metal plate and bolts in his leg after stepping into a hole while doing yard work one day. Vrchota said the local fire department had to pull him out.

About six CCC volunteers, including two adults and four youth, ages 8th grade and up, constructed the ramp Tuesday and Wednesday in front of the Lincolnton residence.

The project is just one of nearly 40 this summer that the organization has carried out in Lincoln County and over 100 completed across Lincoln, Gaston and Cleveland Counties, according to Camp Director Chelsea Spires, who said project materials mainly stem from community donations and state grants.

CCC will spend four total weeks in Lincoln County alone, Spires said, spacing weeks out among June, July and August.

The nonprofit ensures each volunteer group of five to six people spends time on a variety of initiatives and locations within each specified region.

Comprised of five total camps, CCC mostly serve counties on North Carolina’s western end.

Spires said the goal of the organization is to bring people closer to Christ and serve God’s people–her own passion.

Each evening, after volunteer youth return to camp, they participate in devotions, praise and worship, games and free time–what Spires considers a “good balance between serving, worship and fun.”

“It’s been rewarding to be on staff and watch kids from different churches become one and see what they get out of it,” she said.

The Connecticut resident has volunteered with CCC the last three years, living each summer at Camp Loy White in Casar, N.C.

As a first-time camp director this year, she oversees all projects throughout her three-county region.

Spires said local community organizations such as Department of Social Services, Christian Ministry and senior centers, among others, offer CCC project ideas and names of residents needing home repairs and yard work.

Residents also call in and request assistance.

While CCC previously only did volunteer work during the summer season, the organization recently expanded its services to include additional projects throughout the year both at home and abroad.

Numerous volunteers, like Spires, stem from out-of-state but all individuals working on Helms’ wheelchair ramp this week live locally, including Gastonia resident Ed Pyles.

Over the years, he has volunteered for CCC with his wife and children, making it a family affair.

While Pyles has done international mission work in the past, he prefers taking care of local needy.

“I get to serve close to home,” he said of his CCC volunteering.

Charlotte teen Landon Whitley also participated in building Helms’ ramp. The 17-year-old seasoned volunteer worker first joined CCC when he was just 14-years-old.

“I like helping people,” he said.

Additional projects carried out by the organization this summer have included floor repairs, porch and porch roof construction, painting and underpinning a trailer.

While the summer is quickly coming to a close, CCC officials are still willing to add more projects to their list, Spires said.

Individuals can also call the corporate office throughout the year with their requests.

For more information, questions or to make a donation to Carolina Cross Connection, visit carolinacrossconnection.org or contact the organization at (704) 538-9113, (704) 721-0033 or ccc@carolinacrossconnection.org.



Image courtesy of KaAnSuli | Lincoln Times-News

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