The Pamlico News June 10, 2012
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.