Episcopal Community Services Louisiana serves the most vulnerable members of our communities. We are blessed to have many who help us do this worthy mission. These are stories of volunteers from around the country.
“Even though their stories are heartbreaking, the people we helped during our stay are so rich in pride even with all they’ve lost,” said Mary Dunn, one of volunteers who traveled from Seattle, Washington and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (http://www.saintandrewsseattle.org/) this past week to lend a hand in New Orleans’ ongoing rebuilding effort.
They worked through Phoenix of New Orleans (http://pnola.org/), and among other things, helped rehab a house in the Broadmoor neighborhood. The owner, whose house once had 8 feet of standing water and was swindled by an unscrupulous contractor, will soon be back in his home.
St. Andrew’s, a congregation of 330 households, is dedicated to diverse ministries. For example, they are a greening congregation, which means they take positive and meaningful steps in their personal lives towards creating a more sustainable future. Some of the initiatives they support are serving shade-grown coffee at church events, greening the building and grounds, raising awareness and action addressing climate change, improving recycling around the church building and offices and trying to eat locally and lower on the food chain. They also often take field trips and hikes in an effort to get to know the local and regional environment better.
They stayed at St Andrew’s http://standrewsnola.com/index.html Chalstrom Chapel House and took in the sights: Lake Pontchartrain, Brad Pitt’s houses in the 9th Ward, St Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square and Anne Rice’s St. Elizabeth house. They danced to great music on Frenchman Street, and Mary even dipped her hand in the Mississippi River. “I can now check that off my bucket list,” she says.
But the highlight of the trip seems to be the Lenten Pot Luck they shared with members of St Andrew’s church on Carrollton St. Remembering the feast, the volunteers let out a collective sigh: “Oh, my goodness that was some great food!”
We in New Orleans are blessed. Along with the devastation, loss and pain of Katrina also came the love, caring and hope of so many compassionate volunteers. People who left their sweat in the floor joists and beams of our homes, their footprints in reclaimed landscapes and their love in the hearts of so many of the families they helped. They will forever be connected to the heart, spirit and core of this great city. Maybe that’s why they keep coming back.
One such group is the dedicated volunteers from St Paul’s Episcopal Church (http://stpaulsthedalles.org/) in The Dalles, Oregon. Early this February, the St. Paul volunteers returned, some veterans and some new, to help with the rebuilding of a church in New Orleans East, making the heart of Reverend Cornin a bit more hopeful.
Though small this congregation’s volunteer efforts are huge. Their outreach mission is to be a source of hope and healing to the community, the nation, and the world. The church recently sent another group of volunteers to Cap Haitien, Haiti. Locally, the congregation actively participates in such things as meals for the homeless and Habitat for Humanity. Though the idea is a bit foreign to us southerners, the church also runs The Warming Place, an over-night shelter for the homeless during those brutally frigid Oregon nights.
While here, the volunteers enjoyed New Orleans’ glorious weather. They ambled through the French Quarters, took in Uptown New Orleans’ beauty and even caught some colorful Mardi Gras beads.
Volunteer John Adams, who’s been to New Orleans every year since Katrina slammed in from the gulf, says, “Service is in our blood.” We want to take this opportunity to tell him and the members of St Paul’s how much we appreciate that outreach is so important to this very special church.
Episcopal Community Services Louisiana serves the most vulnerable members of our communities. We are blessed to have many who help us do this worthy mission. This is a story about some recent volunteers from St. Michael’s Church in Milton, Ma. For more info about how you can help, contact Pete Nunnally at http://ecsla.org/join-us/
The thunderstorm that greeted St. Michael’s Episcopal Church’s volunteers from Milton, Massachusetts didn’t dampen their spirits one bit, and soon the weather brightened, the temperatures warmed and this group got right to work.
They were truly busy doing everything from demolishing a water-soaked closet to handing out po’boys at the New Orleans Mission. During their stay they helped with such organizations as Beacon of Hope and Phoenix of New Orleans. They also painted ironwork, got their hands dirty at the Bayou Rebirth gardens and helped families come a step closer to once again living in their homes. And, most importantly, with open hearts, they listened to the stories of the people they served.
The 385-member church is an active multi-generational church located just outside of Boston. The church has a deep commitment to outreach. Besides their 5th annual visit to New Orleans, earlier this year they also sent volunteers to Joplin, Missouri. At home, they run a food pantry, serve meals to Boston’s homeless and reach out to low-income children with ministries that serve boys in a correctional facility, malnourished infants and children of domestic trauma. They also have a productive tutoring program and summer camp. In addition, this busy congregation provides canine and human companionship to the elderly and support to struggling refugees. A busy congregation indeed: one that takes its mission to support and foster spiritual growth very seriously.
Besides their hard work during their visit, they also found time for some fun. Visiting the World War II Museum, riverboat trips down the Mississippi and catching some Mardi Gras beads are just a few of the things the group enjoyed. We truly thank them for all their efforts!
Yes, our ECS Volunteer Program is still running, and we would love to host you and your group! Though our Rebuild Program has come to a close after gutting over 900 houses and rebuilding over 75 homes, our Volunteer Program is still open and accepting volunteers.
Building Trades/Building Construction students from Alfred State College of New York have returned for a second year to partner with ECSLA in helping victims of Hurricane Katrina to move home. For six weeks this fall, they used the skills acquired in their first year of study at Alfred State to rebuild homes in New Orleans. ECSLA is very grateful for this partnership. With their help, the last houses in the ECSLA Rebuild Program were completed.