On Friday, Wayne Vandlandingham, left, and Steve Tybor III announced plans for Eight Days of Hope to bring volunteers from around the country to Tupelo and Lee County to help repair between 150 and 200 storm-damaged homes.
By M. Scott Morris/Daily Journal
TUPELO – In response to the April 28 tornado, a volunteer organization that’s helped people all over the country will turn its focus toward home.
Eight Days of Hope was formed in Tupelo in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Since 2005, the group has mobilized more than 13,700 volunteers to help disaster victims rebuild.
“We’ll do between $4 and $6 million dollars worth of work in Tupelo and the Auburn community,” said Steve Tybor III, president and founder of Eight Days of Hope.
On Friday, he announced that the Christian organization will direct its efforts on July 12-19. Volunteers with a variety of skill sets, including roofing and carpentry, will pay their way to Tupelo.
Once here, they’ll get free lodging and food, and they’ll put their skills to work helping the uninsured and under-insured get their homes back in order.
“The community said, ‘We want you. We need you,’” Tybor said, “and God told us clearly that we need to be here.”
The 501(c)3 organization served Tupelo earlier this year by helping with the Build for Beth campaign, which renovated the home of Beth Stauffer, the widow of slain Tupelo Police Sgt. Gale Stauffer.
“That gave us our introduction to the city,” said Wayne Vanlandingham, vice president. “Who knew we’d be back here with a disaster?”
Mayor Jason Shelton said that past experience made it a simple decision to accept the group’s offer of assistance.
“It’s a godsend for our people,” Shelton said. “It’s a godsend for our city.”
Community partners include Hope Church, Calvary Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Tupelo, Harrisburg Baptist Church, Auburn Baptist Church, Room to Room Furniture, Tupelo Christian Preparatory School and Tupelo Furniture Market.
Tybor said the effort in Tupelo will require $500,000, and fundraising is underway. People may donate at P.O. Box 3208, Tupelo, MS 38803, or at www.eightdaysofhope.com. It’s an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff.
Tybor said the goal is to give people hope by showing them Christ’s love in action.
“The best sermon I ever heard was the one I saw,” he said.]]>
This years recipients are: Doctor Victor Horn of Chickasaw county, Dr. David Cole of Itawamba county and Steve Tybor, Doyce Deas and Larry Ferguson, all of Tupelo.
“It says a lot about North Mississippi, that we have this level of giving in our community,” said Dr. Victor Horne. Horn operates a clinic at his church, that helps make medicine and healthcare available to people who otherwise might not otherwise be able to afford it.
The big surprise of the night came when emcee, WTVA’s Craig Ford announced that Steve Tybor would represent North Mississippi at the National Jefferson Awards Convention in Washington, D.C. in June. Tybor founded Eight Days of Hope, an organization that helps rebuild homes and lives in the wake of disasters.
“It’s not about me. It’s never been about me,” said Tybor. “It’s about all of us doing something to make a difference. If we all just do something, the world will be a better place.”]]>
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 email@example.com.]]>
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.]]>