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Nomads lend hand to church, community

January 30, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — For many individuals, retirement can mean time with family, friends or on permanent vacation.

For about 1,200 retired individuals and members of the United Methodist Church, retirement means lending a hand to the denomination's smaller churches and communities that need it.

The Calexico United Methodist Church in Calexico is one of those churches.

The Nomads, a volunteer organization of Methodists and snowbirds, travel across the country helping smaller churches with repairs. The name Nomads was chosen for their lifestyle, meaning a person who travels constantly always seeking greener pastures.

The Nomads were organized about 15 years ago when a few church members wintering in a small town in Texas saw a church that needed some repairs, said Dick Davenny, team coordinator for the Nomads in Calexico this year.


The group of vacationers talked to the pastor and agreed to help repair the church.

When other Methodists received word of what the couples had done during their vacation, they wanted to join. So an individual took it upon himself to contact Methodist churches that needed repairs to offer assistance.

Now there are about 1,200 active members in the volunteer program.

The program starts each year in early October when the organization sends letters to members stating the various churches across the nation that need assistance.

The members are allowed to choose which churches they want to assist. Most of the churches are in the southern part of the country, since the Nomads are Snowbirds and the program runs mostly through the winter.

The Nomads then travel to the churches, providing their own transportation and housing arrangements.

Each church is assisted by about five couples that will stay about three weeks, depending on the repair work.

The only thing the church needs to provide is adequate space for their homes, which are mainly trailers or motor homes, electricity and water.

Sewer hookups are helpful but not required.

The Nomads have been visiting the Methodist church in Calexico for six years.

Ana Dominguez, pastor of the Calexico church said, "It's been great. They could be in Las Vegas or Miami but they choose to give their time and do this."

The Nomads have been at the Calexico church for three weeks. They are not only helping the church but assisting Calexico Neighborhood House, a community organization affiliated with the United Methodist Church and dedicated to helping underprivileged families. Neighborhood House is renting three rooms from the church for a pre-school program.

The Nomads repainted and repaired some walls, worked on electrical wiring and various other things at the church including the three rooms that are being rented to Calexico Neighborhood House. The pre-school program has been conducted at the church since June.

Jane and Dick Davenny and Charles and Carol Townsend, all of Shoreline, Wash.; Melvin and Jeraldine Gough of Hutchinson, Kan.; and Pat and Paul Zimmerman of Saybrook, Ill., were spending their last day at the Calexico church Thursday. The Townsends were heading next to Apache Junction, Ariz., the Goughs to Julian and the Zimmermans and Davennys to Somerton, Ariz.

Dick Davenny said the volunteer organization recently hired a full-time director, Marcia Florkey, who works out of Trotwood, Ohio.

"This is something the Lord allows us to do. It lets us feel a little younger and keeps us out of the bars," Davenny said jokingly.

"If you have faith but you don't put it to work, then it's just dead, but if you put it to work then it's alive," he added.

Charles Townsend said, "We feel like we've lived a good life. The Lord has blessed us so we want to give back to the community, which the lord allows us to."

"It's worth it when looking back and seeing what you've accomplished. It is also nice to meet new people," he added.

Townsend and his wife have been involved in Nomads for about two years.

Pat Zimmerman said she joined the Nomads because she wanted to help other people in the country and make new friends.

"It's been a great experience," she said.

The Zimmermans have been involved with Nomads for about one year.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.

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