‘I figured it’d be nice to give back’: Students from Iowa rebuild EKY homes on spring break

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 3:24 PM EDT
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A group of adults and students from Iowa chose to spend their spring break in Letcher County. The group is working to rebuild homes for people who were impacted by the flooding in late July.

One of the students said she thought it was a good opportunity to be a helping hand for people who needed it.

“It gives you more self-confidence knowing you’re helping somebody,” said Riley DeGonia a high school senior from Iowa.

One student added that he knew this was the right way to spend his break.

“I figured it’d be nice to give back to people that got their homes taken away from them. So, I just decided let’s go rebuild houses. It’ll be fun,” said freshman Jerry DeGonia.

When Pastor Tim Maxa announced the opportunity to serve in Letcher County, he said he had no problem getting volunteers to load up and travel more than 12 hours away from home.

“17 of us are out here at the worksite. We have about eight really skilled people, and then we have youth that are willing to work and learn stuff,” said Pastor Maxa.

The students said they have learned plenty of skills.

“I’ve learned how-to put-on subfloors, trusses, walls,” said Jerry DeGonia.

One student added that she has learned skills that can’t be taught.

“I’ve learned that if you give back to others then they will give back to you in a different way,” said Riley DeGonia.

Pastor Maxa said that the Letcher County area was the first place he pastored more than 20 years ago and getting to bring students back to help rebuild is a blessing that hit very close to home.

“I’m still heartbroken for the people here in the mountains who have been through so much flooding. The people here accept you and make you feel a part of them. I’ve been gone 29 years and coming back they still made me feel like I was a part of the family,” Maxa said.

The group is working with H.O.M.E.S INC in Letcher County and they will be here until Friday.