Volunteering time and talents

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When Lewis Thorp's oldest daughter came home after attending the diocesan WorkCamp and couldn't stop talking about it, he didn't understand what made the program so special. Now, as he prepares to begin his 16th year as a WorkCamp volunteer, Thorp fully understands his daughter's response.

"She came home full of life and excitement, and I asked her, 'What in the world did they give you?'" said Thorp. "I was so curious that we even went back to her worksite and visited the resident with (whom) she worked. By then, I was hooked."

Intrigued by what he saw, Thorp decided to volunteer himself, and in 1999, he traveled to the Shenandoah Valley to serve those in need as a WorkCamp contractor.

Gaining the opportunity to combine service, teaching and positive self-growth, Thorp enjoyed his first experience at WorkCamp and decided to return as an adult leader in 2000 and 2001.

Although Thorp could not take off the five days necessary to volunteer at WorkCamp in 2002 due to a new job assignment, it was important to him to remain involved, so he volunteered as a team building station leader for a day. After building up enough vacation hours, Thorp returned as an adult volunteer the following year.

Throughout the last 10 years, Thorp has served as a troubleshooter at WorkCamp. Within this capacity, Thorp visits between eight and 10 work sites to provide assistance and expertise to work crews.

As a troubleshooter, Thorp has had some interesting experiences that have helped him develop his Catholic faith.

When asked to provide a crew with six specialized attachment devices for a kitchen sink, Thorp went to several home supply stores and could not find the items he needed. Unwilling to give up, he began visiting WorkCamp sites on his route and came across a kitchen sink with the exact attachments needed lying in a patch of tall grass.

"Experiencing the Lord's hand in this simple way was exciting and gave me the opportunity to witness a concrete demonstration of His love," said Thorp. "WorkCamp has really reminded me that the Lord is present in everything we do."

Although health factors have become a growing concern for him, Thorp hopes to continue serving as a WorkCamp volunteer to promote "a safe and rewarding experience" for the teens of the diocese.

"I have seen a positive change occur in the teens who participate in this program, and it is such a rewarding experience," said Thorp. "By supporting the program, we provide these teens with the unique opportunity to experience Jesus in new ways that can only emerge by being a part of an intentional Catholic community."

With 15 years of experience under his belt, Thorp can't wait for WorkCamp 2015, in Quicksburg, June 20-26.

"This camp is for the glory of God, and I am excited for another opportunity to share in His love this summer."

Willis can be reached at jwillis@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015