Although Hurricane Irma hit Southwest Florida on September 10, 2017, many area families are living in homes still desperately in need of immediate repairs; and some remain displaced, unable to return to their homes. Thankfully, volunteer crews descended upon Southwest Florida during their summer vacation, giving of their time and manpower to rebuild homes for families gravely impacted by Irma.
“We do this because we feel it is our calling to help others in need. The family we are helping hasn’t been able to return home since Hurricane Irma hit. They have been living with relatives up north. We hope they will be able to return and get their lives back. This week, our team has been busy removing damage and installing subfloor,” explains Pastor Mike Maxwell of the New Life United Methodist Church in Midlothian, Virginia, whose crew worked on a home in Goodland. While in Southwest Florida, the New Life crew members totaled 680 hours of work.
Two churches (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Graves Memorial Presbyterian) from Clinton, North Carolina teamed up for their mission to Florida. They represented the last volunteer crew of the summer. The churches divided into two crews to help with two homes, one in Naples, one in Copeland.
“We are here, because volunteer crews from Florida came to our aid when our area experienced major river flooding damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew,” explains Pastor Daniel Cenci of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Clinton, North Carolina. “Our assigned home is in Copeland. The owner, a widow who lives alone and is battling cancer, has been unable to make the necessary repairs. We are continuing the work that last week’s crew started. They installed a new tin roof, and we are boxing in the rest of the house. We have also been busy removing dense brush, overgrowth, and debris. We are happy to be here making a difference. We are simply paying it forward.”
Work crews were provided hospitality, shelter, hot meals, and showers with gratitude by the generosity of the United Wesley Methodist Church and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church parishioners.
“It is humbling when out-of-state volunteers come to help our locals in need. We want people to know that even if they can’t help with construction or debris removal, there are other ways to help. We have volunteers serving meals and providing hospitality. There are many opportunities to serve,” explains Chris Stroud, a member of the United Wesley Methodist Church of Marco Island.
For more information or to help with the volunteer efforts, go to: umcor.org.