DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – This October, 1,200 volunteers from across the country will convene in Dayton.

They’ll spend a weekend doing service projects to improve neighborhoods throughout the Miami Valley. It’s part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Serve Tour”. But, before it gets underway, organizers need your help.

“I love our neighborhood,” lifelong Old North Dayton resident, Joyce Hines, told 2 News Anchor Lauren Wood. “All my life I’ve lived in North Dayton. Born right here in North Dayton.”

For nearly 75 years, Joyce Hines has called Old North Dayton Home. She and her husband, Jack, have lived in this house for 48 years. They’ve seen the neighborhood through its ups and downs: Including the 2019 Memorial Day tornados.

“It was within three blocks of our home,” Joyce said. “And very devastating. A lot of people lost their homes. Didn’t have insurance. Some of them still are down and not back up to what they should be.”

But a major service initiative coming to the Miami Valley is aiming to help. The Southern Baptist Convention’s annual Serve Tour will descend on Dayton this October. Some 1,200 volunteers are expected to take part… working on projects suggested by you.

“Serve tour is a way for our local churches to really bless our community,” said Dr. John Heading, Director of Disaster Relief for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and Serve Tour Dayton Project Manager. “We’re not here to tell our community what to do, but asking, ‘What do you need? How can we be involved?'”

Heading is asking neighbors, schools, and city leaders to submit ideas for projects.

“The good thing about the projects that we do: we’re going to pay for all of them too,” Heading said. “And so we’re not asking, ‘Hey can we come help you? We want you to pay for it.’ We’re going to cover all of that. We want to bless our communities.”

North Dayton Baptist Church is one of three hubs for the Dayton leg of the Serve Tour. But Heading says volunteers will be spread out throughout the area, showing the Miami Valley the love of Christ through acts of service.

“As the hands and feet of Jesus, we need to be in our neighborhoods,” Heading said. “Who we are is not about the building. It’s about our relationship together as believers. And how do we help individuals. How do we get in our neighborhoods.”

Joyce and Jack have attended North Dayton Baptist Church for decades. They’re excited to see it at the center of this project… and to see how it impacts the neighborhood they love.

“Our kids keep saying, ‘Why don’t you move?” Hines said. “Well… it’s our home, until the nursing home or our heavenly home. So I’d like to see the neighborhood rebound.”

If you know of a project you’d like to see the Serve Tour take on, Heading says you can email him directly at jheading@scbo.org

He’ll compile a list and volunteers will accomplish as much as they can during the Serve Tour weekend, October 7 and 8. If you’d like to volunteer as an individual or as a church, you can also reach out to Heading via that same email address.