Back in his hometown of Tupelo, Miss., on Monday morning, after spending eight days in LaPlace rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Isaac with his non-denominational, faith-based organization Eight Days of Hope, Steve Tybor reflected on the experience. “Wow,” he said. “Just wow.”
Between March 9 and March 16, more than 2,500 volunteers with the group, which was founded by Tybor and is dedicated to rebuilding homes and communities damaged in natural disasters, logged 131,000 hours and completed roughly $4.1 million worth of work. Clad in bright orange T-shirts, workers finished 631 projects in 228 homes and six churches across St. John the Baptist Parish. Today, 67 damaged homes stand totally repaired, and Regala Park in Reserve boasts a fresh coat of paint, among other improvements.
“I leave physically and mentally exhausted, but spiritually full,” Tybor said. “LaPlace has a special place in my heart. We were blown away.”
The trip to LaPlace is Eight Days of Hope’s 10th mission since its founding in 2005, and by far the largest and most ambitious. Tybor, along with five Eight Days of Hope executive leaders, began planning the LaPlace mission last December and worked closely with the St. John Parish Long Term Recovery Group, a coalition of residents, community leaders and members of local government created after Hurricane Isaac.
“I would do this again in a heartbeat. I’d do it again starting right now,” said Bethany Bergeron, an assistance coordinator at the Volunteer Reception Center. The Volunteer Reception Center, which is where residents with flood damage can apply for assistance, is an integral part of the Long Term Recovery Group. Just weeks after the hurricane, the center, based out of New Wine Fellowship Church on Airline Highway, opened its doors to residents seeking help. Since its inception, hundreds of residents have received thousands of dollars worth of donated labor and materials that enabled them to rebuild their homes.
“To see it all come together and accomplish everything we intended to accomplish and then some, it’s just incredible,” Bergeron continued. “The excitement of watching it all happen is enough to keep me still pumped.”
Although Eight Days of Hope set out to spend just eight days in LaPlace, some volunteers found themselves so moved by the experience of working with homeowners in LaPlace that they were unwilling to leave when the week was done. According to Tybor, several groups opted to stay in St. John Parish to finish their projects.
“They fell in love with the homeowners, and they asked if they could stay longer,” Tybor said, specifically citing a group of five volunteers from Virginia, who will be in LaPlace until Thursday. “Their eight days of hope ended up being thirteen!”
The rebuilding effort in LaPlace, however, is far from finished. According to Bergeron, there are still 547 homes left to repair, and the Long Term Recovery Group will continue its efforts as the 2013 hurricane season approaches.
“It’s up to us to carry the torch now,” said the Rev. Checkerz Williams of Celebration Church in LaPlace. Williams was the initial point of contact for Tybor and Eight Days of Hope, and has acted as a liaison throughout the organization’s LaPlace mission.
Celebration Church, as well as New Wine Fellowship, is part of the Long Term Recovery Group, and has been involved in the rebuilding effort after the storm. Williams said that multiple volunteers told him they are already planning trips back to LaPlace with their respective church groups and community organizations.
“We far exceeded our expectations,” he said. “It’s nothing short of amazing.”
By Juliet Linderman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on March 18, 2013 at 4:21 PM, updated March 18, 2013 at 4:29 PM
The Word of God in James, Chapter 2, verse 17, says that faith without works is dead. This past week, more than 2,000 volunteers from all parts of the country displayed how faith with works can impact a community.
The group called “Eight Days of Hope” is a faith based, non-denominational organization dedicated to helping communities devastated by natural disasters. They invaded St. John Parish last Saturday and immediately started repairing homes damaged by Hurricane Isaac.
Bethany Bergeron, coordinator of the rebuilding project under the Long Term Recovery Group of St. John Parish, stated that more than 200 homes were visited and assisted in recovery. Throughout the parish, Christians from all walks of life with their bright orange T-shirts came to our parish to get blessed. That’s right! They came here to get blessed by helping those in need. God’s Word says that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Steve Tybor, president and co-founder of the group, said, “When you give, it’s priceless. It’s a treasure you can’t imagine.”
One young man, 17-year-old Jacob Williams from Virginia, is credited to have said, “We’re not here to build houses. We’re here to build relationships.” I never met Jacob, but Thursday morning at PJ’s, God allowed me to meet a couple from Longview, Texas, Randall and Martha Arnhart.
Seeing the excitement and satisfaction this couple had for being a small part of “Eight Days of Hope,” almost made me envious. Their 17- and 15-year-old boys were with them. Their other two boys are students at Baylor University.
As we ended our visit, two young men, also members of the group, walked in. Both were students at the University of Kentucky – Andrew Colburn, a psychology major with his eyes set on being a minister, and Nicholas Scott, a chemical engineering major. The two had never met the Arnharts.
That’s the beauty of God’s people coming together for His Glory, not knowing each other or caring about getting any credit.
As I was about to leave, my friend, Mike Brouwer, came in. We visited for a little while and briefly discussed the people with Eight Days
of Hope. Mike summed it up with these words. “It was good to see all the people in orange T-shirts working, helping people, having fun and not drinking beer or using vulgarity.”
Evidently their mission was accomplished, not only by doing construction work but also by sharing the love and joy of the Holy Spirit. Come to think of it, they were also busy constructing their heavenly homes that will never experience any natural disasters.
If you have any questions or comments, please write to Get High on Life, Inc., P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call 985-652-8477, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>
Hundreds of Hurricane Isaac victims are given hope to march on as their recovery continues
Andrea Williams is still trying to rebuild her LaPlace home where she lived for 22 years prior to Hurricane Isaac.
“I didn’t get (Federal Emergency Management Agency) money, and I’m waiting on insurance money,” said Williams.
An army of volunteers from the faith-based organization 8 Days of Hope are helping Williams and other residents recovering in the aftermath of the hurricane
“It’s awesome. They are God-sent. They are a pleasure to work with,” said Williams.
More than 2,500 people from as far away as France are in the area doing everything from landscaping to painting to drywall. Paul Gunderman, a retiree with a 13-person crew from Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Buffalo, N.Y., is a regular on such trips.
“We can’t wait for the new ones to be announced. People take vacations and make their time available,” said Gunderman.
Leah Powers and her husband brought their seven children from Texas. They said it’s their best vacation yet.
“We re-shingled and tore off a roof the first day. The kids moved 90 percent of the shingles to the side of the road and they had a great time,” Powers said.
Former paramedic Mark Combs and his team from Virginia are making some homes accessible to residents with handicaps.
“Just walking into it, I could hear the holy spirit, and then when I heard the story of the homeowner having a special needs child and being trapped here in the flood and actually strapping him to herself to get out of here,” said Combs. “We opened up a door that was 2 1/2 foot to 6 feet.”
Combs said he is called to serve by a higher power and is leaving his mark on every home they renovate.
“Bible verses are written throughout on the studs, so that the Lord’s word is with this home throughout,” said Combs.
Volunteers said they hope to instill faith in those still struggling to rebuild.
“It’s just a coalition of hope. They have given us hope back,” said Williams.
It is the group’s 10th trip to disaster areas since 2008. Volunteers are also given the option of going back in smaller groups, while the nonprofit helps them team up with a local organization to return.
After Hurricane Isaac decimated her home on Marvin Garden Street in LaPlace last August, 59-year-old Yvonne Warren was beginning to lose hope. As she sat in her living room next to a dining room that had been stripped down to its wooden frame, barren of furniture and appliances, she recalled the hardships she endured after the storm.
“The roof was destroyed; we had to take the ceiling and bricks in the walls out. The wind broke the door, shattered the glass,” she said. “After the storm, I was feeling down. FEMA turned me down twice, and my insurance company didn’t want to give me anything. I was depressed.”
But on Tuesday afternoon, Warren was anything but despondent. As she sat, more than a dozen “Eight Days of Hope” volunteers clad in bright orange T-shirts scurried around her, repairing the ceiling and roof, turning what had become a symbol of difficulty and dispair into a beacon of hope for Warren and her family.
“Now I feel loved, so loved,” she continued. “I’ve never been so loved in all of my life.”
Warren’s home is one of 157 houses that Eight Days of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding communities devastated by natural disasters, has already begun to work on. Eight Days of Hope is faith-based and non-denominational, and the LaPlace project is the organization’s 10th – and most ambitious — mission trip since its 2005 founding.
The LaPlace rehabilitation effort, which includes 2,500 volunteers from across the country and the world, will draw to a close on Saturday, after eight days of work. The group has assessed roughly 350 homes, and hopes to work on as many as possible this week. Volunteers got to work on Saturday; after three full days, they are off to a running start.
“We’ve done 267 projects in 157 homes so far; in three days, we’ve done $1.3 million worth of work,” said Eight Days of Hope President and Co-Founder Steve Tybor.
“I have to admit: my motive is pure – I came to encourage and love people,” he continued. “But I’m full, my heart is full. When you give, it’s priceless. It’s a treasure you can’t imagine.”
Across St. John the Baptist Parish, in areas of LaPlace, Reserve, Garyville and Edgard, thousands of Eight Days of Hope volunteers – the youngest of whom is fifteen months, the oldest 88 years — got to work on demolition, carpentry, roofing, flooring, painting and plumbing projects. And the rewards of such work are not limited to the beneficiaries.
“This is a snowball rolling down a hill – it just keeps growing and growing,” said volunteer Paul Poland 62, of Guntown, Miss. “I’ve gotten to meet new people, new families, and it’s inspiring. This gives me hope for this country — that people still believe in hope.”
“We’re not here to build houses,” said 17-year-old Jacob Williams from Bumpass, Va. “That’s a tool to build relationships, and to rebuild communities. These trips are a spiritual high – it’s one thing to go to church, it’s another thing to live it out.”
Tara Beatty, 40, traveled to LaPlace from Beaver Dam, Miss., to work with Eight Days of Hope with her three young children, who through a letter writing campaign raised $800 to offset travel costs. The Beatty family is staying in a tent camp just outside of the St. John Community Center, and despite the recent harsh weather, Beatty said the trip has been more rewarding than she could have imagined.
“At home, being a mom, life is routine – you don’t see how you change or impact anything,” Beatty said. “Here, we spent all day yesterday cleaning out moldy material from a house, and by the end of the day, you could walk into the rooms again. It’s life changing; we are more thankful for everything we have.”
For Sandra Dillard, 70, volunteering for Eight Days of Hope has given her new purpose in the wake of retirement, and the sudden death of her husband last year.
“My husband died last year, and I retired, and I said, ‘I need to go do this,’” Dillard, of Tupelo, Miss., said. “This feels really wonderful. It’s given me new purpose now that I’m alone.”
This is her first Eight Days of Hope trip, but it certainly won’t be her last. “I’ve been blessed with good health, and I will do whatever I can do to help. This has given something to do with my life – to help people.”
By Juliet Linderman, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on March 12, 2013 at 4:00 PM, updated March 12, 2013 at 5:30
Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church was destroyed by the
tornado of April 2011.A new and larger church has been built at
the sanctuary’s historic location at the intersection of county
roads 402 and 159 in Northeast Chickasaw County.
It was more than a rebuilding project and re-dedication ceremony, it has been the resurrection of a church that was destroyed in the April 2011 tornado that raked Chickasaw County.
Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church has been a part of the Buena Vista Community since the 1800s and has seen membership rise and fall. So when the tornado of 2011 totally demolished the building, many wondered if it would survive.
“We’ve always been a small congregation that served people in this community,” said Thomas Guido, a member of Pleasant Grove. “We didn’t have a lot of money and our people – many who were also devastated by that storm – don’t have a lot of resources.”
But Pleasant Grove M.B. Church has been rebuilt and they are regularly adding new members at the new church in Northeast Chickasaw County.
“I won’t ever say the tornado was good, but God worked powerfully through a lot of good people to make good things happen,” said Guido. “We’ve got a new building, a larger building and we actually grew in membership during the time we were without a building.”
And to give perspective, the tornado had literally reduced to rubble the church at the intersection of County Roads 402 and 159.
“They found our church sign in Fulton,” said Guido. “I was baptized in that church when I was nine-years-old. We were devastated.”
But that is when First Baptist Church of Okolona and later 8-Days-Of-Hope came alongside the church and helped it rebuild.
“Just a few days after the tornado our church blocked off a sizable chunk of money and began praying for those hurt in that storm,” said Rev. Eric Boykin of First Baptist Church Okolona. “We saw where that church was destroyed and we later met with Thomas and Pastor Alan Atkinson.”
And Guido said members of FBC Okolona did more than just give money.
“They had people show up to hammer nails, paint and help us roof,” said Guido. “They brought food and fed our crews. They also brought food and clothes to our members. They showed they really cared.”
FBC Okolona named Bobby Hester, a local contractor, as the point person from their church. Guido was named the site foreman for Pleasant Grove.
Both Guido and Boykin said Hester was on the job every day except Sunday for six months, checking on materials, organizing work crews and even hanging doors and painting when necessary.
“I can’t tell you how blessed we were,” Guido said.
“I can’t tell you how blessed we were,” said Boykin.
Both men said something special happened as the walls went up and the community saw the church being rebuilt.
And that spirit also touched Eight-Days-Of-Hope.
Eight-Days-Of-Hope is a Christian-based volunteer organization that sends in work crews, certified plumbers and electricians and even materials to do construction projects and repairs to storm damaged homes in an eight-day span.
“We were led to Mississippi after the tornado and normally work with families getting them back in their homes,” said Steve Tybor, of Eight-Days-Of Hope. “We saw the passion both these churches had and quickly realized this was a unique project that we wanted to be part of.”
Ed Gifford, from Kansas City, Mo., did the electrical work through Eight-Days-Of-Hope. He actually stayed much longer than eight days, tending to details and hooking up fixtures and air conditioning units as they were installed.
“Ed fell in love with the people in that area,” said Tybor. “Pleasant Grove fell in love with Ed.”
And through it all Pleasant Grove continued to hold services and meet the needs of members in the community.
“The church became the rallying point for the community,” said Guido. “People would drive by and see the church going up and realize things were getting better.
“They would also drive by and stop to see what we were doing,” Guido added. “That’s when we asked them where they went to church, what their needs were and told them where we were meeting every Sunday.”
And while all this culminated with a first service in the new building in May and a formal dedication service in June, FBC Okolona, Pleasant Grove and Eight-Days-of-Hope point out it is not the end.
“We baptized two people last week,” said Guido.
“Ed Gifford and his wife drove all the way from Kansas City to attend the dedication ceremony,” said Tybor.
“We have people in our church who have made dear friends with members at Pleasant Grove,” said Boykin.
And the blessing and ministry of all involved continues.]]>
By Martha L. Hall
Pamlico News Staff
Mary Monroe is 102-years-old and has been living at the Gardens of Pamlico in Grantsboro until work on her home in Stonewall is completed. A complete tear-out and rebuild of her home was necessary after Hurricane Irene.
Friends said she has lived in her house for decades.
“I’ve been living there a long time,” she said. “You never know what the Lord has in store. He made us all and he knowd all about us. Whatever he sees fit for us, that’s where we end up.”
Mary, who was born on Sept. 23, 1910, said she was born in her Granny’s den.
“The fact of my birth was recorded in the family Bible,” she said. “But there ain’t nothing like home. I’d like to get back there.”
Eight Days of Hope, a cadre of 1,700 persons from 42 states and three foreign countries, worked on Pamlico County homes for a period of 8 days, ending last weekend..
A crew has been working on Miss Mary’s house the entire time. The project may have to be turned over to the Baptist Men or the Methodist Men.
Last Saturday was the last day for the 8 Days of Hope project who had 389 projects waiting for them in 125 homes when they arrived on May 26th for their 8 days of labor.
The non-profit Christian group completed an estimated $1.6 million in labor In Pamlico County. Many of the volunteers took vacation time from work to come. For some, school was out and they volunteered. For others it was a family affair.
Gregory Gross, from Grace Lutheran Church in Chester County, Virginia, was working in Maribel, doing everything from kitchen sinks, toilets, flooring and cabinets.
“I called my cousin, Charlie Carter, a defense contractor in New Bern,” said Gross. “He was between projects and came over and helped.”
Bryant Miller watched from his wheelchair as 8 Days of Hope workers repaired his bathroom.
“I fixed it up as best I could,” said Miller. “I just couldn’t do it myself.”
Nick Labriole, 15-years-old, of Prince George, Virginia, was with his father. Dad had his head in a hole in the floor, examining the subflooring.
“I came down because we had a Memorial Day break,” he said. “We’re going back tomorrow. My dad is the one who knows how to repair everything. He tells me what to do.”
Steve Smith and his wife, Linda, were from Wheeling, West Virginia. Steve has attended 5 trips for 8 Days of Hope; his wife, Linda, has attended 4 trips and his son, Preston, has done 8 trips.
“My son went to the first 8 Days of Hope trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He got me involved and I got my wife involved. Before this, I did State Farm claims. Now I realize what some of those claims are for.”
Eight Days of Hope President Steve Tybor said the Pamlico County mission was the ninth since Hurricane Katrina and it was one of the most ambitious.
The fact that Camp Seafarer had no guests for the Memorial Day holiday was a Godsend.
“It has been great,” he said. “We’ve had a wonderful week.”
Back at Camp Seafarer, Juliene Price of Bolivar, Ohio, and Tuanee Smith, Seneca, Pennsylvania, direct the repair traffic with paperwork.
“My husband does HVAC work, electrical and plumbing,” said Price.
Her strength is in job administration – paperwork and computers.
Price lines up all the jobs on a board. The white tickets are projects in the houses and the number is staggering.
“White sheets are what have to be done,” she said. “Pink sheets represent work in progress and the orange tickets are for filing. These orange sheets are finished.”
Price said the secret is never having been afraid of numbers of people or paperwork.
For 22 years, she worked for a company that scheduled family pictures for studios.
“I learned the flow of arranging things,” said Price. “I’ve worked with my husband, an electrician, ever since Katrina. I pulled wire on the first trip and then I got involved in what I’m doing now.”
Taunee Smith, said she was Price’s right-hand helper.
“I’ve made four trips since 2005,” she said. “I worked in an unemployment office in Pennsylvania. Now I’m Price’s administrative assistant.”
A sign sitting over the door to the computer area read “DIE to self,” a sign placed there by Tybor.
Price looked at the handwritten sign and smiled.
“That’s what we have to do to maintain this,” she said. “We have to give ourselves to God.”
Margaret Vanlandingham and her husband, Wayne, manned the computers in the office, tallying what had been done; what remained to be done.
Dawn Baldwin-Gibson, chairman of Pamlico County Disaster Coalition, said the unfinished projects will be turned over to the Baptist men, UMCOR and others who have remained in Pamlico County since early September.
Baldwin-Gibson said many blessings had come out of 8 Days of Hope being here.
“A retired gentleman came to Pamlico County with 8 Days of Hope and was working at Mary Monroe’s house when his retina detached,” said Baldwin-Gibson. “He went to the clinic here and to the hospital and a specialist from Raleigh is doing the repair for free. We took him to Raleigh. He has been staying with Denny Bucher, who owns Family Tire in New Bern.”
Baldwin-Gibson said some of the 8 Days of Hope workers told home owners they would come back and finish the work.
“There are so many moving stories that have come out of 8 Days of Hope,” said Baldwin-Gibson. “There was a lady who came on her first trip to Pamlico County. Her husband worked with the first eight trips after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the floods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Nashville, Tennessee. The eighth trip was the first tornedo recovery trip to Smithville, Mississippi and Hackleburg, Alabama. Sometime after the eighth trip, the man died. His wife signed up to come to Pamlico County in remembrance of her husband.”
Baldwin-Gibson said 80 extra people just showed up to work and they had to scramble to find those people a place to stay.
“This was the largest event 8 Days of Hope has ever done,” said Baldwin-Gibson.
EVERYWHERE — This week a wonderful phenomenon has been seen throughout Pamlico County. It looks like a sea of blue T-shirts almost everywhere, worn by volunteers from as far away as New Hampshire, Iowa, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, California, and about 40 other states in between.
These people represent what Pamlico County has been longing for! 8 Days of Hope is here!
For months, many of us have been anticipating the arrival of more than 1800 volunteers. With so much work having gone into the planning and organizing of this event, yet there were times that it was hard to imagine how it would all come together. Nevertheless, the Pamlico County Disaster Recovery Coalition continued its work in preparation for the coming of 8 Days of Hope. Although this was an uncharted area for the less than four month-organized Coalition, our case workers met and visited applicants; the fundraising committee sent letters and made calls for resources; and, board members along with in-county and out-of-county partners worked tirelessly to accomplish this goal.
Among these partners was the experienced and competent staff of Camp Seafarer that readied itself for the volunteers that would arrive on May 25. Under the leadership of Lynn Moss, Director, and Elayne Steinman, Associate Director, Camp Seafarer opened its doors and hearts to the volunteers.
Last Friday, we began to witness the reality of our work and our hopes. As we watched the first of many volunteers begin to arrive and register, it was evident that the work had come to fruition. It was as tangible as the family from Pennsylvania who had driven 15 hours through the night with their five children to get here. It was as real as the youth groups that came after sponsoring various fundraisers to pay for their trip to Pamlico.
I was moved by a young woman from Iowa who had cleaned houses to get a seat on the bus coming to Pamlico County and by the ladies from the Midwest who came with quilts they had worked on for months to present to local homeowners. With the many heart-warming stories are the many people whose goal is to serve the people of Pamlico County by being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.
As gratified as I was when I left Camp Seafarer on Friday night after meeting so many wonderful people, my day was not yet over. When I returned home, I received an e-mail from a young woman in New England whose father had left home and had forgotten the name of the camp and its location. She wanted me to check if he had arrived. Upon checking, I found out he had arrived in New Bern and would later spend the week coordinating jobs.
Saturday was equally gratifying with some rewarding challenges. I awakened to an early morning text bearing great news with a challenge. Happily, even more volunteers had arrived, but we needed additional lodging. Pamlico Community College immediately came aboard, providing us the much-needed space. This team effort took place in a matter of hours, and we were able to place scoresof volunteers at the college by 3 p.m. with the generous assistance of Dr. Cleve Cox, President; Jamie Gibbs, Vice President of Student Affairs; Bruce Lupton, Maintenance Director; and the entire Board of Trustees.
Amazingly first day orientation established on Saturday morning began the efficient process that would be the week’s hallmark for 8 Days of Hope. Job coordinators began the process of surveying which jobs they would be working on. Job sheets went up for workers to fill the needed number required for the jobs listed. Hundreds of people gathered at a time to see where to go, and who they would serve. It was incredible to see. People moved in, signed their names to the sheets, gathered with their groups and loaded up in vehicles and were off to various points throughout Pamlico County.
Blue shirts with the 8 Days of Hope logo had converged, and now were dispersed across the county to start work on more than 60 homes initially. This would mark the largest first day volunteer number with approximately 1100 people on board..
On Sunday many gathered at local churches to worship. We had a group join us in New Bern at our church. One group in Vandemere created a makeshift church where about 120 volunteers worshipped at a work site with some local community members. By noon, however, volunteers were back on roofs, repairing floors, tearing out, and rebuilding. They were now in more than 90 homes and some jobs were already nearing completion.
Having been to more than half of the work sites in the county, I am in awe of all the work the volunteers are accomplishing. The homeowner stories of this experience coupled with those shared by volunteers are simply moving. There is the homeowner who after having her roof repaired declared, “Now when it rains, I won’t get wet.” An elderly homeowner had been afraid she would fall through her bathroom floor that had been severely compromised after Hurricane Irene. A volunteer verified how dire the need when the volunteer almost fell through the floor. Concerned about the danger, the volunteers tore out the old floor and replaced it. Now the homeowner walks in her bathroom feeling safe.
One thing that I learned from numerous conversations and meetings with the Executive Leadership of 8 Days of Hope was the importance of giving back to the community. This was already evident, I thought, in the work that they were doing in homes, but they wanted to go beyond that. When thinking of a great place to start, Pamlico County Middle School was an obvious choice.
It has been a challenging year for the school system as a result of Hurricane Irene. With the displacement of students, faculty, staff, and administration from the middle school, all schools have been affected. When we initially made contact with Dr. Wanda Dawson, Superintendent of Pamlico County Schools, and Ms. Lisa Jackson, Principal of Pamlico County Middle School, it was not yet clear what could be done with so much work at the school already completed. But the 8 Days of Hope leaders were committed to doing something for the school. It has been awesome to see the work they have done on the exterior of PCMS.
In all the work that 8 Days of Hope has been completing, there has been a solid working relationship with the two main disaster relief organizations that have been on the ground since Hurricane Irene: NC Baptist Men and United Methodist (UMCOR). All of these volunteers are working to help restore the county.
At the writing of this, it is only Day 5, and there is still work slated to be done. Many volunteers did not want to leave jobs in the midst of a storm because they wanted to complete what they had begun in a timely manner, but safety first.
As the final few days of 8 Days of Hope come to a close here in Pamlico County, publicity about this unprecedented event for North Carolina will surely focus on rebuilt homes and the economic impact to the county. However, the real story is one about hundreds of people who came from all over the United States and unselfishly brought hope, joy, and the love of Jesus Christ.
Many months ago, Steve Tybor, 8 Days of Hope president, told me this would be a life-changing event. He was absolutely right
Shauna Engeldinger is a church administrative assistant in Ohio. Tim Dow works in sales in New Hampshire. Adam Baumgardner is a civilian aircraft mechanic at Cherry Point air station. Karen Shutt, also from New Hampshire, has nine grandchildren, is retired and baby-sits a lot.
They have a common thread, being among 1,100 volunteers from around the country who fanned out around Pamlico County repairing and in some cases, nearly rebuilding Hurricane Irene storm-damaged homes.
Eight Days of Hope, a Mississippi faith-based disaster recovery nonprofit that began its mission after Hurricane Katrina, expects the number of volunteers from more than 40 states to swell to 1,600 during its eight day stay in Pamlico.
Throughout the county Saturday, work sites were easy to spot, with multiple vehicles, stacks of building supplies, large Dumpsters and crowds of volunteers sporting their trademark blue T-shirts.
The volunteers are of all denominations, genders and ages. Pamlico is Eight Days of Hope’s ninth relief mission. Many of the volunteers have been on other projects, ranging from hurricanes in the Gulf to floods in the Midwest as well as the mountains of Tennessee.
Asked why they sacrifice their time and labor for strangers far from home and the answers are consistent. It reflects their faith
Engeldinger is no stranger to relief work, having traveled to Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010.
She rarely picks up a hammer, but donned in work clothes, gloves and a protective mask, she looked like a seasoned professional beating and tearing out old sheetrock from the home of 102-year-old Mary Monroe in Stonewall.
“You have to have a heart for people and what to do — God’s work — and be selfless,” she said.
John Thompson, who was also with the Ohio church group, said the goal was to “gut the house, tear all the drywall out, kill the mold and ready the walls for the painters.”
Monroe, who has lived in the small house for 60 years, is staying at an assisted living facility while the workers rework her home, according to Marilyn Jones, her caregiver.
“This (place) is all that she has known,” she said of Monroe. “I don’t know if it was because she is 102, but FEMA didn’t do anything. This is a real blessing.”
Neal Miller, retired from the furniture supply business in Mississippi, drives a supply truck bringing building materials from the warehouse to the volunteer workers. It is his fifth trip with Eight Days.
He and his wife are no strangers to North Carolina. He made multiple trips to furniture shows in High Point for 42 years and his wife has sisters in Oriental and Newport. They also have a son who was once stationed at Cherry Point air station.
“This was like going back home,” he said. “We are supposed to be blessing the people we help, but we get a bigger blessing than they do. We do things the way you are supposed to do it. And, there is a lot of energy from this group (volunteers).”
Baumgardner, who lives in New Bern, is a newcomer to Eight Days, coming with Donald Germann and his 12-year-old son, Darrin Germann. Dad Germann, who works for the state Department of Transportation, has been on previous Eight Day projects, including Hurricane Katrina and to Tennessee for flood relief.
“It’s our love of the Lord and our love of people,” he said. “We share the gospel, not just through words and preaching to people.”
Baumgardner agreed, adding, “We’re showing our faith.”
Steve Tybor, president of Eight Days, said Pamlico County looks to become the group’s largest rebuilding project ever.
“We have no overhead. We’re an all-volunteer grassroots organizations,” he said. “We’ll buy materials locally. We have a warehouse set up. We set up, in essence, a small business for eight days. We deliver materials to the job sites and if they run short, they call and we deliver more.”
Eight Days’ fundraising goal for the Pamlico project is $250,000, with donations still needed and being accepted.
“We’re a faith-based organization and when people hear about the grassroots effort with no overhead, they are willing to donate,” he said.
Dawn Baldwin Gibson, chairman of the Pamlico County Disaster Recovery Coalition, praised the work of her group, from the fundraising committee to case workers who have visited and assessed the needs of flood victims. The coalition has a 24-member board.
“We can’t say enough for Eastern North Carolina for what they have done,” she said of the $70,000 in donations raised. “It has really been a grassroots effort.”
The funds raised included about $20,000 that came in a response to a recent letter sent to every home and property owner in the county.
“We’re hoping that we get a large number of people helped,” said Joy Carawan, the finance officer and a case worker for the Pamlico County Disaster Relief Coalition. “The long-term recovery is still going to be here after Eight Days of Hope leaves, but I would like to see the majority of it done. We are almost nine months out from the storm and still working on people’s homes.”
BAYBORO, N.C. — A hurricane victim we’ve been following since last year is finally receiving help from across the country.
More than 1,600 volunteers will be helping Pamlico County resident Geneva Gibbs said losing her home has taken an emotional and physical toll.
“It did, it made me sick. I lost weight, I went from 254 lbs to 181. It just grieved me to death,” said Gibbs.
After Irene swept the coast, her home was completely destroyed and she didn’t have insurance. Gibbs said she turned to prayer, hoping for a miracle.
“I feel like it’s all through the good Lord’s work,” said Gibbs. Now, help is on the way.
Eight Days of Hope is a group which brings volunteers from across the country together to help communities affected by natural disasters.
Volunteer Chris Short said they are honored to be helping coastal residents.
“We know it’s not always an easy thing for people to allow someone from the outside to come in and to open up to them,” said Short.
The group relies on donations to help buy materials and Gibbs says while she may not have much, she’s sharing what she has.
“I just gave them all I had to give, yes sir, to help them to get the materials and different stuff and I will want to join this disaster club from now on,” said Gibbs
She adds that she’s grateful for all the volunteers. “I am so glad I am in ya’lls heart and I want to thank-you,” said Gibbs.]]>
NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT)- The countdown is on for volunteers to descend on the east to go to work. In a couple of months thousands of people from all over the country will join the non-profit group Eight Days of Hope. They will rebuild homes in some of the hardest hit areas from Hurricane Irene.
If Hurricane Irene had destroyed Marilyn Jones’ house, “I would hope that someone would reach out you know and give me help.”
That’s why she became a case worker in Pamlico County after the storm. “And my heart just went out to the people because you saw all their hard-earned money out on the side of the highway,” she said.
It’s a familiar scene for Stephen Tybor- president of Eight Days of Hope. “The number eight in the Bible means new beginnings,” he said. “People in Pamlico County deserve a new beginning.”
His group has rebuilt homes from Louisiana to Tennessee in areas devastated by natural disasters. He expects this trip will be the biggest one yet with about 2,000 volunteers coming in from all over the country. “So we have people who do HVAC work for a living, dry wall, painting, carpentry, electrical work.”
Tybor says it takes all kinds of volunteers to get the work done. They even need people to help pick up the volunteers when they arrive here at the airport in New Bern.
“Even though I’m a case manager, what can I do, and my thing, my gift is children.”
After hearing about the need for money, resources, and other volunteer services, Jones wants to set up a babysitting site for volunteers’ children.
For Tybor, the mission is clear. “God tells us to love your neighbor as you love yourself,” he sid. “And I don’t know about you, but I can become very selfish at times, but there’s people just 20 miles down the road from New Bern that are waiting for people to come help them.”
Jones has spent months consoling storm victims who lost it all. “I know it’s material things that you had for a long time, but you know, you’re here and we’re here to help,” she said.
Eight Days of Hope will be in Pamlico County from May 26th through June 2nd. The group will partner with the Pamlico Disaster Coalition to find out which homeowners are eligible.]]>