NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Sounds of banging hammers and whining saws ricocheted off buildings on the Bethel College campus in North Newton April 14 as students worked alongside alumni and others to put a new roof on Baumgartner House. The college-owned rental house at 2618 Minnesota was shedding its three layers of shingles for a set of new ones, donated in part by Moundridge Lumber Company owner Galen Waltner, whose hammer was making some of the noise. Tom and Tim Graber from Moundridge provided a work crew, including several Bethel College alumni who volunteered their time and services to begin the roof work on the early 20th century house. The roofing job coincided with the college’s Service Day when more than 230 Bethel College students as well as faculty and staff put down their books and put on their work clothes.
"The students were really serious (about their work on the roof)," Tom Graber said, noting that those students without previous roofing experience caught on quickly. "Bethel students learn fast." For Graber it was a time to remember his own efforts on Service Day when he was a Bethel College student from 1968-72.
Students on the roof relished the break from studies and the chance to do physical labor.
"I’ve spent a few summers doing construction work, so I've had some experience with roofing and shingling. I love this stuff," said J.J. Birky, senior communication arts major from Colorado Springs. "The alumni have some good Bethel stories to tell. Spending a day sweating on a roof with them and other students gives you a little more connection to and appreciation for the heritage of this place."
Other students working on the Baumgartner house were Isaac Hochstetler, McPherson; Jason Rylan Schmidt, Whitewater; Joseph Schrag, Wichita; Justin Shook, Lyons; Ty Unrau, McPherson; and Michael Waltner, Moundridge. Also on the roof were carpenters Russell L. Stucky, Moundridge, and Phil Hart, Newton.
"We at Bethel College want to thank Moundridge Lumber Company for supporting this project and Tom and Tim for organizing this crew and giving the job the energy it needed. Projects like this are a wonderful way for community people to connect with Bethel College," said Fred Goering, director of development.
After working with volunteers and students two days, college maintenance staff finished the roofing job April 20. Staff who worked on the project included Adam Akers, Royce Flaming, Les Goerzen, Kelly Harms, Aaron Pulscher, Mike Ratzlaff, Luke Schmidt, Rod Schmidt and Stan Wiens.
At other locations some of the Service Day work with professors corresponded to particular majors. Social work students did outdoor and office work for the Wichita Children’s Home. Bible and religion majors did yard work for Interfaith Ministries, also in Wichita. Science majors performed hands-on science activities with third graders at Park Elementary in Wichita. Education majors worked at Sunset Elementary in Newton. Nursing majors interviewed residents at Kansas Christian Home in Newton for a resident satisfaction survey.
For Service Day the college community volunteered at 31 locations in North Newton, Newton and Wichita as well as at Camp Mennoscah near Murdock.