The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Church project aims to get kids sailing on Foster Lake


July 3, 2017

VOLUNTEERS install the bottom of a dinghy sailboat under construction.

Pastor Joe Medley has had a vision of getting local young people sailing on the water at Foster Lake for years.

Now Medley, a former building contractor, is seeing his dream come to reality.

Medley is leading a team of volunteers from Fir Lawn Lutheran Church in what they call the “Noah Project,” a boat-building and sailing endeavor aimed at Sweet Home’s youth.

As the teens build their El Toro sailing dinghies, they will learn to use tools, such as belt sanders, jigsaws, hand planes, drills and saws.

But the learning is meant to go deeper.

“The purpose is to help build self-confidence,” said Patty Holk, church member and volunteer.

“(It’s) for kids to have fun and do something they thought they couldn’t.”

Medley’s introduction to sailing was 30 years ago when he was a pastor in Klamath Falls. He still considers himself a novice, but sails with other people.

“Sailing itself teaches them so much,” he said.

While participants will work in groups of four, they won’t know whose boat they are working on.

“You don’t know if it’s your boat or not,” Medley said. “It’s a big thing for us; this is an investment in our kids.”

Medley said they are looking for youth who could benefit from somebody making an investment in them.

“We want them to show them they are valuable,” he added.

Fir Lawn does not have any children in the church, Medley said, but they invest heavily in the children of Sweet Home.

Each year, the church raises money to send youngsters to summer camp; this year they sent 40.

The group has already raised $900 of the $2,000 they need to complete their first four boats.

“We’re asking people in the community to nominate the kids,” Medley said. “If anybody has $400 or $500, this is a great place to invest in the community.”

Volunteers also are still needed. Medley said while volunteers don’t need to have any experience, project leaders would appreciate people who could do relatively simple portions of the building, such as the masts.

Adult volunteers would undergo a background check similar to that of school district volunteers, Medley said.

“Pastor Joe is our driving force,” Holk said. “To get God’s work done, it takes a village to do everything.”

Once the boats are built, the youth will have some expert guidance in learning how to use them from Eugene Yacht Club volunteers.

They will offer a one-day sailing class and help put on a regatta, Medley said.

The group is hoping to be finished with their first boat by this week and the others done in August.

Holk said they hope the project will become a “community thing.”

“It’s not about Fir Lawn or (the volunteers), it’s about the kids,” she said. “We would welcome any organization or group that has same goals in mind to get on board. It can only get better with more.”

LAURA MITHOUG drives screws into a sailboat-under-construction as team members, from left, Dick Cook, Bob Dalton, Les Cody and Pastor Joe Medley hold the pieces in place.

Medley would like to see other church groups participate, he said.

“This is all about restoration,” he said.

“Here’s what floats my boat as a pastor: healing things that are broken and setting people free.”

For more information about sponsoring a boat, or part of a boat, or nominating a youth, contact Patty Holk at (541) 990-1487.


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