Local ministry group gives West Medford home extreme makeover

West Medford, Ore. — A house-in-transition program just received an extreme makeover. The West Medford program helps women start over after spending time behind bars. Those behind the program said the outside changes, will have a big impact on the lives inside.

More than 60 volunteers working on one house, that’s helped change the lives of many.

“Every year, we look for a local project that we can do to help the community,” said Ron Ashpole, president of Helping Hands International.

This year, Helping Hands teamed up with Hope and a Future ministries.

“This is a house that ministers to women coming out of jail and prison. It’s kind of a halfway-house,” Ashpole said.

“Sometimes they come out of prison and jail with absolutely nothing. We’re there to support them and walk them through the whole cycle of the transition back into the community,” said Rachelle Benthin, Hope and a Future ministries.

Everything from budgeting to finding work, to community involvement.

“People’s perspectives needs to change. So that not only for people to come alongside and know that there is hope for these people – but for people to know there’s hope for themselves,” said Rowena Reeley. Reeley is one of the five women living in the home-in-transition.

Rowena knows how hard the transition can be. Just a few years ago, she was in and out of jail.

“People think that – oh, they can’t be helped and that’s not true,” Reeley said.

Now, she’s lived in the house for two years and is an intern for Hope and a Future.

“Really just a whole community coming together even if they don’t realize it to support those within the community,” Reeley said.

Which is exactly what Helping Hands is doing.

“A hand up. We don’t want to give a hand out. But we do love to give a hand up to anyone in need,” Ashpole said.

Giving a hand up – and using a lot of elbow grease in the process.

“We’re doing new siding, new paint, landscaping, new sidewalks, in ground sprinkler system,” Ashpole said.

The 60 volunteers putting in the time said it’s all worth it.

“The kids are great, they come out with a great attitude. They come out with lots of energy,” Ashpole said.

“For me, it’s a pleasure to help others, because it’s like doing what Jesus did. He came here to serve others, not be served,” said Eva Piccini, missionary from the Dominican Republic.

That’s what all these volunteers are following – the foundation of God.

“It’s so easy just to do things and to get applauses and like – yeah, that was so cool. But especially to give love, is the most important thing and that’s what we’re trying to do in everything that we do,” Piccini said.

Volunteers visiting from the Dominican Republic will be here for the next two weeks. If you’d like to get involved with Helping Hands, It said it’s always accepting new volunteers and donations. For more information, you can visit Helping Hands International’s website.

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