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Odessa church group marks third Cleburne visit
08/03/2014 - By Matt Smith/msmith@trcle.com - Cleburne Times Review

A dozen teenagers and several adults from New Life Church in Odessa joined forces with city workers and Cleburne’s Christmas In Action program on Thursday and Friday to lend a helping hand.

Unseasonably cooler weather on both days lent the perfect conditions for outdoor work.

“We knew they were coming from West Texas so we ordered up some cooler weather to welcome them to town,” Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said.

This marks the group’s third year to visit Cleburne, New Life Church Youth Minister Jeremiah Foley said.

“This is their high school mission trip,” Foley said. “It’s something that helps us make a difference and to grow as a church group.”

Foley said he first heard of Cleburne’s CIA program about three years ago.

“CIA actually started in Midland,” Cleburne Health Official Teresa Richardson said. “So they heard about us a few years back and called to see if we could use their help. I told them, ‘Sure, come on out. We’ll find you a project.’”

CIA is a nonprofit volunteer organization focused on repairing home of elderly, disabled and low-income residents at no cost.

The Cleburne chapter formed in 1999 and holds a volunteer work day each April but also tackles individual projects throughout the year.

The Odessa group cleared brush and collected debris from the yard of an elderly Cleburne woman on Fuller Road whose husband is in a nursing home.

“They filled two roll off trash containers [Thursday] and will probably fill them again today,” Richardson said on Friday. “The city got out there with a tractor to pull out a dead tree from the backyard and the kids picked up a lot of the trash out there. They also collected a lot of trash and debris up and down the road. There’s a lot of illegal dumping that goes on out there.”

The group stayed in town anywhere from two days to a week in past years, Richardson said.

“They’ve painted houses, cleaned yards, think it was last year they built a wheelchair ramp,” Richardson said. “They help out a lot.”

Cain praised the group’s outreach and involvement.

“I look at it as kind of an in-state sister city program between Odessa and Cleburne,” Cain said. “I think it’s the beginnings of a great partnership and it’s wonderful to see not only our churches and youth groups helping out, but also other groups from elsewhere coming into Cleburne.

“And I think it gives those kids from Odessa an opportunity to interact with kids outside of their city and I hope they’re having a great experience in Cleburne. A lot of our residents go help out in other communities and we’re very thankful and ready to return the favor to Odessa if they ever need us.”

Several pitched in to host the Odessa group. They stayed at Westhill Church of Christ, slept on cots donated by Johnson County Emergency Services and showered at Splash Station. Cleburne firefighters served them breakfast Friday morning as they have the past two years.

“We certainly appreciate their efforts to help make Cleburne a better place,” CFD Chief Clint Ishmael said. “It’s a good system between our local volunteers and groups and groups from out of town. That and the work CIA does all ties into the larger picture effort we’re developing with Operation Cleburne Pride and other programs to revitalize the city.”

Foley said he and his youth group are enjoying the weather and their time in Cleburne.

Pay it forward, Richardson said.

“We really enjoy having them and want them back every year to make this a tradition,” Richardson said. “I also encourage our people in Cleburne to go on mission trips to help other communities but also remember you can go on a mission trip in your own backyard and pitch in to help your community.”
On the web: CleburneTimesReview.com

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