Volunteering

stormIn the days following Hurricane Katrina, most of the country was galvanized by the images on television of people without the basic necessities of life. We were in awe of nature’s wrath and the magnitude of the devastation. As we watched the events unfold in New Orleans and in Mississippi, I felt urged to go and help. Through a series of events, I connected with a woman who had evacuated Ocean Springs, MS (OS) and had sought shelter here in the Atlanta area. She was desperate to go home, but afraid to travel by herself and not sure what she would find when she returned to her home. After consulting with my wife, I offered to help Mary back to OS. She followed me in her vehicle as I led the way in mine.

When we arrived at her home, we quickly found that there had been 6 feet of water inside. The water line was very obvious and the mold was spreading beyond imagination. The entire contents of her home were in disarray. It was as if a giant had picked up her home, shook it like a snow globe, and put it back down. Over the next several days, I helped her take all of her life’s treasures and pile them up on the curb.

I connected with a local church while looking for shelter and was quickly accepted in as family. In addition to my work helping Mary with her home, I assisted the volunteer group to establish procedures for cleaning and sanitizing homes. After five days of the hardest work I have ever done, I left to go back home to my family, my business, and my life. I had done my part to help the people of the Gulf Coast recover from this disaster. Little did I know that I would be called on an adventure that would stretch my faith and my family to the edge of our abilities.

About an hour north of Mobile, AL, I felt a calling to go back to Mississippi. But not just by myself and not for just a few days. I stopped the truck to call my wife and told her what God was leading me to do. She said, “If God’s in it, I’m in it.” After returning home and spending time talking it over as a family, we began the process of relocating to the Gulf Coast. First, we were adopted as a Missionary Family by a church in Ocean Springs. Then God raised the money for us to go.

In November, almost two months after my initial trip, I returned to Ocean Springs. I lived in a camper in the church parking lot for two months. After the Holidays, my wife and five children joined me- in a house that God provided for free. My family stayed through the second week of June with my two oldest girls attending a local high school and two of the little girls in pre-school. My family returned to Atlanta in June, leaving my oldest daughter and myself. I continued my duties as Construction Coordinator and she worked as a Crew Leader. Her job was to lead neighborhood clean-up teams and at sixteen years old, she was leading groups as large as seventy people. She will never forget that her first job was a non-paying job helping with the recovery of the Gulf Coast.

During my time volunteering with CORE (www.corebasecamp.com) I was privileged to work with a staff from all over the country, work with over 8,000 volunteers, rebuild 71 homes, re-roof 81 homes, and clean and sanitize over 500 homes. All of this was done in just the Jackson County area from September 12, 2005 through July 28, 2006.

The following letters, pictures, and links further describe my experiences and my job duties. I hope you will take the time to read some of them.