A speech given at devotions one morning.

John has asked me to say a few words to you this morning on my experiences with C.O.R.E.

The first thing I see when I wake up in the morning is my ceiling. So my topic of conversation today will be- of all things- ceilings! Of course I am not well acquainted with the beautiful ceilings of the world, the places of Europe, the wonderful cathedrals, and many other beautiful ceilings I’m sure you know of.

The ceilings in my home are very small. They were average, run-of-the-mill ceilings. But after hurricane Katrina, my ceilings became complete eyesores. They were molded, wet, dirty, broken and unfortunately falling on the floor below. Not a pretty sight.

Then along came a bunch of volunteers from Portland, Maine, with hammers, crowbars, and other weird tools and attacked the ceilings of my bedroom. In no time at all, the ceiling was down and resting on the debris pile in the street. Then, donning masks and using spray canisters, long handled brushes, and plenty of elbow grease, they attacked the mold that had grown all over the rafters.

All was accomplished in five days; they were a fantastic group. We sadly said our goodbyes, but not before they had stapled a big blue tarp where my roof used to be. Then I woke up to a blue tarp ceiling!

My next set of volunteers worked extremely hard on other areas of my house, but unfortunately not on my ceilings. Then a bright note- John called to say I had twenty-two sheets of drywall donated to me. My spirits rose as I looked at my blue tarp ceiling. I knew where that drywall was going.

My third set of volunteers were from the Advent United Methodist Church in Minnesota, who set to work with gusto. They replaced the insulation and sheetrock. The sheetrock was now screwed nicely into my ceiling, but they also worked hard on many other areas of my house. What a great job they did!

At this point my ceiling was now up and firmly attached to the rafters, but as an unfinished product it wasn’t going to place in any beauty contest.

And from then to the end of February many more wonderful workers were banging on my door, ready to do whatever was needed to finish the job. During the next five days the taping, sanding, and painting was accomplished. Crown moulding, stained, varnished and replaced, that ceiling was now back to pre-Katrina glory and in the words of Tim who had painted it: “Vera, you are going to have to wear sunglasses when you wake up tomorrow morning.” And how right he was.

Please raise your arms to the ceiling and remember you are not only replacing a ceiling, you are raising the spirits of so many people who will never forget your kindness, your selflessness, and your love. Leaving your homes and families to help us.

In conclusion, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all the many volunteers before you and the ones who come after, in the words of my answering machine message: THANK YOU-GOD BLESS YOU- AND HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY.