Last Wednesday morning, Jeff Woodrich was up at 3:45 and on the road by 4:30, heading north from his Walker home.
STATEWIDE – Last Wednesday morning, Jeff Woodrich was up at 3:45 and on the road by 4:30, heading north from his Walker home.
Typically, it’s the way Woodrich, who is the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Mission Builder Director/Strategist, begins most of his workdays. With 40 projects statewide, and more coming on line weekly, the early start is necessary to allow him to cover as much ground as he can.
“I used to inspect the projects every week, but I’ve had to cut back to every two weeks because of the high cost of fuel,” Woodrich said. “We have projects ongoing all over the state.”
On this particular day, Woodrich has scheduled meetings in Alexandria, Natchitoches, Bossier City and Campti.
In Natchitoches, he meets with BCM director Bill Collins, project coordinator Bill Temple and architect Jeff Sampson at the Northwestern State University BCM. The project, which was slow getting started because of the weather, is moving ahead, and appears on schedule to be completed by mid-December.
There isn’t time for lunch as he’s next off to Bossier City, 70 miles to the north of Natchitoches, to check in with project coordinators Steve Hayes and Jim Wyble at Cross Point Baptist Church. While checking on how the work at Cross Point is progressing, he also checks on the progress of Roger Colson, a transplant from Kentucky. Colson is a project coordinator in training.
He concludes his day by driving 100 miles south to Campti for a meeting with the building committee of United Baptist Church, which is a partnership between First Baptist Campti and Westwind. It makes for a long day, but Woodrich would not have it any other way.
“I go to make sure each project coordinator has what he needs. It allows me to inspect the site and get a first-hand look at the progress,” Woodrich said. “We have no shortage or projects, the biggest obstacle I face is finding enough volunteers for each one of these projects.”
As mission builder director/strategist, Woodrich is responsible for assigning each project with the right amount of volunteers. His pool of volunteers, though, has tendency to run low, as was the case last week before receiving some good news from the Alabama Baptist Convention.
“I met with Tommy Puckett, Director of Men’s Ministries for the Alabama Baptist Convention, the last of July and they have made a commitment to make First Baptist Church Chalmette their project. They will provide volunteers until the project is completed.”
Exciting news considering the largest project presently underway – 24,000 square feet – was running out of volunteers and it was only 65 percent complete. With more than a year left on the project – it is due to be completed in June 2009 – it is definitely uplifting for all involved.
“Their decision to adopt First Baptist Chalmette and partner with John Jeffries until the project is completed is really big,” Woodrich said. “I know Gary (project coordinator Gary Morrow) will also be happy to learn this.”
Buildings that are constructed by the Louisiana Baptist Convention Mission Builder cost approximately 50 to 65 percent less than any commercial job in Louisiana, because volunteers provide the bulk of the workforce.
“We could not do what we do without volunteers,” assistant project coordinator Jim Wyble said. “We’ve been fortunate here, because Jeff always seems to keep us in volunteers. I believe it has only been a couple of weeks – mainly around the Fourth of July – we haven’t had volunteers here – just church people.
“And they do so much,” Wyble said. “If a church gets in a pinch, they may have to hire contract labor to get a certain aspect of the job done, but for the most part the volunteers we get provide the bulk of the work done.”
More often than not the volunteers are from a church in a surrounding state, such as a group of 34 volunteers from Winter, Texas. The group, who are from West Central Texas, arrived the day before at Cross Point bringing with them an expertise in hanging and painting drywall.
While the Texas group is a rarity, many skilled, mostly unskilled, volunteers are used in such areas as painting, carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, roofing, brick and block laying, landscaping, handyman services, and so on. Helpers, assistants, and other support workers are also considered an essential part of the team.
With such a long list of jobs, volunteers are always needed, and are more than welcomed. Anyone interested can call Mike Canady (Director), Woodrich, or Ed Jelks (Mission Builder Consultant) at 318.448.3402 or 1.800.622.6549 (LA only).