This August, I went to New Orleans for the 10th time. I am continually drawn to the work of physically and emotionally rebuilding the homes of families who have no other hope than the kindness of strangers to regain their only possession of value – their home. Once again, I worked with Project Homecoming – that grew out of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance efforts – to provide free volunteer labor to help recover flood- damaged homes of the disabled, elderly, and most impoverished.
This year, three groups of volunteers from Rochester Presbyterian Churches (Third, Laurelton, Caledonia and Chili) helped two families get closer to returning home. On Apricot St, Miss Anita will return home in December. She raised many of the neighborhood children when she was young. Now, she is spry but walks with a cane. When her home is restored, three generations will live in this 100 year old home. And nearby on Clara St, Miss Jones will also return home in December. They all have waited for more than ten years.
Like any mission work, there is a “give and take”. Both those we help and those who help receive much more than what is tangible. In Katrina rebuilding, we know that we are part of a larger picture that is ongoing. There is follow though. Homes are eventually restored and dedicated. We follow the stories of the people we help and visit when we return. We are received with hugs and thanksgiving. We become friends never to be forgotten, always welcome and invited into their homes to rejoice in what faith has done.
(Nancy M. Watson, Katrina volunteer)