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Pauline Lerner

One Little Candle

November 19, 2007 at 6:08 AM

I was inspired to write this after reading Samuel Thompson’s blog of November 17, in which he gave links to several articles about the state of New Orleans two years after the big flood. It’s bad. Very bad. Many people are homeless and hopeless. Crime is way up. Financial help from the government has been lost in red tape. After reading this, I thought about man’s indifference to his fellow man. Later I had another, more positive thought.

One of my friends (S) lives in Pennsylvania and is a member of a Methodist church with a great social conscience. They work hard to help people in catastrophic conditions. Twice a year, they send a group of volunteers to the flooded area for one week to help rebuild. They sleep in cots in a large room in a Methodist church, and they are fed and assisted by the people of this church. Their most recent trip was to a small city in Mississippi which was devastated by Katrina, and S was there. The volunteers only had to pay for their transportation, and this was a problem for S. She has a handicap and manages to live on a nearly incredibly low income, so she raised the necessary money by contributions from her family and friends.

The group spent most of their time working on one house, which was still standing but uninhabitable. Some people thought it was deserted, and they stole everything inside. The volunteers replaced the roof, put in insulation, and repainted the whole house. S found that she was physically unable to do a lot of this work, so she went to the church office and was given paperwork related to the rebuilding to work on. The owner of the house, a single, African-American mother came to see them work, and her eyes filled with tears of gratitude. The pastor of the church made an 18 minute video of their work trip, and it was very inspiring. The video showed each member of the team working or talking. Most of them said similar things: “I’m so glad I came here to help. It’s really inspiring.”

Rebuilding takes many forms. The most obvious one is physically restoring homes. Another one is an unspoken, personal message. There are people who care about other people with devastated lives and do whatever they can to help. Some of these people are from a northern state and are Caucasian.

The beat goes on. The church is planning their next work trip to the area in early 2008. After seeing that video, I‘ll give my friend more money as a Christmas present. If you would like to help by going or by contributing money, please let me know.

PS. Check out my website.

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