Leoni Meadows Camp and Retreat Center is closer to its goal of rebuilding the camp. From April 7-21, Maranatha Volunteers International and 141 of its volunteers, many from the Northern California Conference, helped with the cleanup and reconstruction efforts. Of the volunteers, there were several from other states as far away as Tennessee. Groups from the NCC included the Grass Valley, Redding, and Capitol City churches. Monterey Bay Academy also brought 54 students and staff to work during the project
Craig Heinrich, executive director of Leoni Meadows reported, “It’s nuts. I made a list of 4,000 things for Maranatha volunteers to do.” The list included railroad track repair, amphitheater and deck reconstruction, lodge clean-up, gardening work, laundry, and other necessary projects. Heinrich continued, “Maranatha got here and in about one day, they wanted to know if there were more jobs to do—because they had completed the ones, I had given them.”
Carol Herbert, the ministry coordinator at Capital City church, organized her church group. She explained, "God told us to go in Matthew 28:18-20. After the fire, it was heartbreaking to see the condition of the camp, but it was a joy to be a part of the project to rebuild."
In the main lodge, which suffered smoke damage, all the rooms were repainted, and linens were washed—an estimated 130 loads. Yolanda Frazier, the administrative assistant of African American ministries, said, “I was inspired by the dedication and compassion of the workers I met at Leoni Meadows! Each of the six rooms my group finished was scrubbed from the ceiling to the floor before we painted. I felt muscles I didn’t know I had!”
For volunteer Ron Gaudrealt, from the Grass Valley church, the work was personal. “My grandkids went to camp here. One of my daughters went to camp here.… I’ve come to men’s retreats. It holds a very special place in my heart. When I heard that this project was happening, we signed up.”
Raven Frazier, a human resource specialist at the conference office, joined the others over a weekend during the project. Giving up her traditional birthday celebration to attend, Raven said, “I went unsure of what to expect. But after the experience, I came home wanting to spend every birthday serving God like this."
By Ken Miller