EL PASO, Texas - If anyone out there has lost hope in the youth of today, have them read this story. It's about two young people who are improving the community, changing lives and getting others involved, all in the name of little boy who left this earth too soon -- Bailey Fincher.
Ashlynn Barclay and Nathan Plesant, 8th graders at St Mark's Middle School, have come up with a service project called "Build for Bailey." The goal is to improve the homes and lives of those less fortunate. They've donated appliances, sanded, re-built and painted... but perhaps more importantly, they've restored hope.
The first home they volunteered at belongs to Erica, mother of four, one of whom is a 10-year old quadriplegic. Getting in and out of her house was a struggle, because the ramp's wood was weathered and cracked. Barclay and Plesant gathered their classmates and spent a recent Saturday alongside Erica's boys, transforming the ramp and doing yard work.
"At one point I did say that I was forgotten, you know? I guess God sent us these people to help us," says Erica.
She was also thankful her boys got to help the volunteers.
" I told them that's something they should always do. Not always try to just receive, try to give back," she adds.
" Being able to help them meant a lot to me," Barclay says.
"We take a lot of stuff for granted. we don't even think - they'd never had a oven range and it went out the same time as their water heater. so they were living without an oven range," Plesant adds. He says it was nice to be able to show the family God's love.
Now, it's on to the next house for Barclay and Plesant. It's a mobile home where five children live with their grandmother. They haven't had heat for years, and most of the windows are broken into pieces. There are so many issues, the teens called on Scotty Clark from Scott Heating & Cooling for professional help.
" There's electrical deficiencies, there are places where electricity and water are coming into contact with each other, deplorable plumbing conditions…the needs are tremendous and we need a sense of urgency. There's no heat, and it's getting colder," Clark tells us. He and Ferguson Supplies donated and installed a brand new water heater, but he says money and tradesmen are needed.
"El Paso is generous, we just need people who can step up. It's amazing we don't need to leave the country to see this kind of poverty. If we go 20 miles in the other direction how different life is and if more people were aware of this I'm sure people would step up," he adds.
Barclay and Plesant say it feels good to be able to make such big changes in people's lives. They came up with the idea with their parents after winning the Bailey Fincher Foundation scholarship. It's in memory of Bailey Fincher, who died when he was just 2 years old. His mother set up the nonprofit so that he would be remembered. Past scholarhsip recipients have performed various outreach programs to under-served areas and donated sports balls to thousands of borderland students. Little Bailey's mom says she's blown away by all the support.
"When a tragedy happens you never imagine something good coming from it. We never expected it to get to this point. You hope you can do wonderful things in the community, but the fact that you can is amazing."
To help, send you donation to the Bailey Fincher Foundation to 915 Vereda del Valle, El Paso TX 79932.