Once Salkehatchie gets in your blood, it’s hard to get it out, Mary Beacham says.
For at least 12 summers in a row, the retired family and consumer sciences teacher at Ware Shoals High School has been involved in Salkehatchie Summer Service, most of it in Union County. This year, she and around 70 other volunteers from nine churches — eight from South Carolina and one from Pinehurst, N.C. — are spending the week repairing homes for those less fortunate.
“You’ve heard that with Clemson that your blood runs orange; with this your blood runs Salkehatchie,” Mrs. Beacham said. “As Jesus said, ‘Go out and make disciples,’ and ‘When you have done to the least of these, you have done to Him.’ It is a blessing. You get so much out of it. You see how blessed you are.”
Mrs. Beacham and several other volunteers are working this week at the home of Alma Jones on Calhoun Street. They are sealing the tin roof, replacing the windows, replacing ceiling tiles and painting outdoor furniture.
“I am very appreciative of what they are doing,” said Ms. Jones, who is retired after 33 years with Head Start. “This crew knows their job. They all have certain skills and they know their job. This entire group is made up of kind people. They make you feel comfortable. They are caring people and we pray together daily.”
The Salkehatchie group is made up of both youth and adults from many walks of life, from student to Chris Sharpsten, a lieutenant colonel in the Army from Pinehurst United Methodist Church in Pinehurst, N.C.
“It’s about service,” Sharpsten said as he worked on Ms. Jones’ creen door. “Service to the community.”
Salkehatchie Summer Service was founded by Union native Rev. John Culp in 1979. It is a program for high school and college age youth drawn primarily from the South Carolina United Methodist Conference. For a week, youth join work camps and improve homes of needy families all over the state. There are six project sites in Union County this week: Ms. Jones home, two residences on Westview Street, one on Meansville Road, one on Lawson Avenue and on Leroy Gossett Road.