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Methodist group repairs homes, builds relationships

Over one hundred teenagers have descended on Commerce - and they're busy working.

The UM Army, a ministry of the United Methodist Church, brings high school students to communities across Texas and the nation each summer to repair and modify houses that badly need the work.

The services are available to homeowners only. To qualify, residents must be elderly, have a disability, or have a low income.

The work is dirty, the weather hot and sticky - and the sleeping accommodations on air mattresses and cots in Sunday-school rooms aren't quite as comfortable as a bunk bed at summer camp. But the friendships, skills and experiences found in the UM Army last longer than a coat of paint.

Extra: web-only audio

UM Army camp leader Scott Atnip describes the hospitality and warmth his group has received at the First United Methodist Church of Commerce. (KETR)

UM Army organizer Christie Erwin discusses why she enjoys spending her summers working with the students and homeowners. (KETR)

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.