Twenty-two students from Mid-America Nazarene College in Kansas were returning to the campus in Olathe today after spending a week renovating a rundown parsonage in West Baltimore.
At the parsonage of the Church of the Nazarene at 706 Walnut Ave., the missionaries repaired windows, painted walls, rebuilt the porch and installed new light fixtures and plumbing. They slept in sleeping bags inside the six-bedroom parsonage and shared the lone bathroom.
The $3,200 face lift was paid for by donations from the college's student government association and a grant from another church.
The students also walked through the neighborhood, picking up trash and sprucing up yards.
"It's been good to see the difference we've made in people's lives," said Nancy Blowers, 21, a psychology major from Durant, Iowa.
The students came to Baltimore at the request of the Rev. Oliver Philips, pastor of the 50-member Church of the Nazarene in the 2000 block of Frederick Road. Mr. Phillips said he and his family have lived in the blighted parsonage for three years and did not have $20,000 to fully renovate it.
"There has been inadequate heat, windows were broken and it needed paint," Mr. Phillips said. "This means that we now have pride in our neighborhood. That we are not living in the worst house on the block. I have been embarrassed when other ministers have come over."
Ms. Blowers and many of her colleagues from Mid-America had wondered what it would be like to live in an inner city, which is why they chose to join the mission and pay travel expenses of $375 each.
"It's real," she said. "You hear the stories but then you hear the sirens and stuff and you have to get used to hearing it all the time."
"A guy got shot yesterday in this area," said Tory Nelson, 24, a business major from St. Paul, Minn. "That made it more real than anything else -- having someone killed two blocks away."
"This gives you a good base of experience," said Michael Thomasson, 21, of Tulsa, Okla. "The stuff we've done here will be with us long after we've gone home."