COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - For years, one summer program has made sure that South Carolina families with housing needs get assistance.
"We have about 13 campers on this site and about five adults," said Shaun Zarandi, who leads the Columbia Salkehatchie Camp hosted by Ashland United Methodist Church in the Seven Oaks area.
Together Zarandi and a group of volunteers were working to repair and restore five different Columbia area homes the week of July 17.
"We are finishing the remainder of the floor in the living room and the hallway," Zarandi said. "Fixing the roof, painting outside, replacing the window, fixing the bathroom and putting in hardwood floors."
The Columbia Salkehatchie Camp is just one of more than 50 camps statewide that is a part of the larger Salkehatchie Summer Service program. The Christ-centered camp brings teens together to lend a helping hand to neighbors in need.
"To give love unconditionally, that's what I would like for them to get out of this. And also learning a skill," Zarandi said.
Zarandi has led the Columbia-based camp for the last 13 years. What he didn't know is that our cameras were on site because his friends had nominated him as a WIS Community Builder in partnership with Mungo Homes.
"Shaun is an inspiration to me and to our church and all the campers," said Kim Crutchfield, who submitted the nomination for Zarandi
"Every morning he comes in and sings, "Good Morning, Beautiful" off-key and just wakes us up at 6 o'clock sharp and it's just the best thing," said camper Jake Faulkner. "He doesn't care how dirty he gets out here on the site. He will work as hard as it takes to get the job done."
Zarandi uses his vacation time from his full-time job at SCE&G to lead this week of service, but his service to the community continues long after the week is over.
"Year-round he gets phone calls from people that he tries to help and through our church," said Shaun's wife Eva. "So he gets a lot of phone calls. We used to get them on our house phone and now he gets him right on his cell phone."
And his dedication to helping every person he can is why his friends were determined to see him honored. We staged a group photo outside of the Solomon Street home so Matt Mungo of Mungo Homes could surprise him with the news.
"I'm here to recognize you for your decades of service to Salkehatchie, and to tell you that you've been awarded our community builder," said Mungo who was met with cheers by the campers. "And you'll get a $1,000 check to the charity of your choice from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation."
Humbled, Zarandi told our cameras he was just grateful for the opportunity to give back, and then he insisted it was back to work.
To learn more about the Salkehatchie Summer Service Program visit: http://www.salkehatchie.org/