Monday, October 7, 2013

Make a Difference: Samaritan's Purse - Disaster Recovery

Hi Friends! How are you? Things are still pretty crazy around here. Much of our town is getting back to normal after the flood, but neighboring towns (and some neighborhoods still in our own) are so very far from normal.


This week we had the opportunity to go with Samaritan's Purse Disaster Recovery teams to some of the hardest hit areas of our state. Volunteers from our area and around the country come together to help homeowners dig out mud, remove debris, spray for mold, and so much more. This was the first time I had seen the worst impact of this flood. It's hard to find words to describe places we've visited often. 


We have been supporters of Samaritan's Purse for a long time. I've posted about their Christmas Catalog, which allows you to donate to specific community projects around the world with everything from agriculture to building hospitals, to clean water programs, to soccer balls for kids. [Shop the 2013 Christmas Catalog now.]

I've also posted about Operation Christmas Child. Now is the time to start putting together your shoeboxes, by the way : )

I also LOVE their new(ish) program in Alaska, called Operation Heal Our Patriots, ministering to our wounded veteran's and their spouses.

But if all that wasn't enough, I am an even bigger fan of Samaritan's Purse after having seen their US Disaster Recovery Teams in action. It was so humbling to spend a day surrounded by people who had come from all over (at their own expense) to spend one to three weeks doing hard, dirty manual labor for eight hours a day, and then sleep on an air mattress at a local church. The paid staff is small, most everyone that comes is volunteering their time and efforts, to put my community back together. Did you even know there were such unbelievably generous people out there? When I say manual labor I'm talking shoveling out houses two to four feet deep in mud and working through pile after pile that looks like this, all day. (This is someone's front yard by the way.)


There is so much debris mixed with cars, board games, books, sod, curtains, barbed wire, clothes, everything you can think of piled together four and five feet high. To look at it you would think it insurmountable. But when a team of 40 Samaritan's Purse volunteers come together, under the direction of an experienced leader, you would not believe the transformation we saw on so many properties. Homeowners who had no hope of salvaging their homes, now have hope; now see some light at the end of what will be such a long tunnel.


In addition to their site expertise, I was so impressed with how the Samaritan's Purse staff looked after their volunteers. Safety is a huge priority, as well as the emotions the affected homeowners are going though. Volunteers are encouraged to take time to just talk with and listen to the homeowners' stories. So often a work crew can come in a get a job done, but that coupled with actually caring for the people whose homes have been nearly or totally destroyed was an amazing combination. They truely carry out, small things with great love. When you combine 40 small thing, you get big results.


I'll wrap this up with a huge thank you to Samaritan's Purse. Thank you for coming to the rescue of my neighbors. As much as we want to help, we could not accomplish anything of this magnitude without the amazing organization and experience you have brought. Thank you volunteers from Buffalo, NY to Waco, TX, to Los Angeles, CA; thank you for giving up weeks of your time, and days of such hard labor and good nights rest. 

If you'd like to be part of helping your neighbors in the US who are devastated by natural disasters in the future, you can sign up to volunteer here (visit this page after a disaster for updated opportunities), or give to Samaritan's Purse Disaster Recovery here

Thanks for reading!
- Haley

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