Back to New Orleans: response efforts continue
"You can see the progress that has been made, but there's still so much work to be done." That was the comment made by one of the workers who took part in our EOA Church in the World New Orleans Work Trip.
A group of 24 people from 11 of our EOA churches headed south in February to take part in the ongoing disaster recovery efforts. We worked in cooperation with the Disaster Response Ministry of the UCC South Central Conference which is led by Alan Coe.
Under the direction of construction manager Tim Fonderlin, we were assigned three different houses. The residents we worked for have been out of their homes for over three years, since Katrina struck.
"The groups from Ohio are among the best workers we get coming down here," Alan commented. We were fortunate to have three gifted team leaders who supervised the work at each site.
Rev. Frank Lehosky from St. Paul's UCC, Woodsfield, coordinated the work teams overall. Tim Immel of First UCC, Sugarcreek, who is a professional contractor, supervised one site. Chuck Evans, from Trinity UCC, Canton, who has been site supervisor for numerous Habitat for Humanity builds, guided workers at another house. Under their leadership, we were able to accomplish a great deal.
As is usually the case on work trips, the participants formed a deep bond of community. As we reviewed the week, many comments were made about the sense of "family" we experienced together.
Comments were also shared about the ways we had been touched by the wonderful, persistent, hopful spirit of the people whose lives have been challenged and changed by this storm.
Our Church in the World Department plans to continue sponsoring trips to New Orleans as long as there is a need.
Many thanks to Frank Lehosky and June Wright who assist me on the leadership team. Many thanks also for your support of Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM) and One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) which makes this ministry possible.