Hey there! Thanks for tuning in!! Today was our first day on the job for real — like red shirts, name tags, notepads and pens… serious stuff.
But actually, today was a big day. As I’ve said before, this camp is a hurricane relief camp. Specifically, Group Mission Trips has partnered up with the Hurricane Sandy Relief Center and Jersey Cares, a nonprofit volunteer organization to provide volunteer workers for those whose homes were disastrously affected by Hurricane Sandy this past year.
Venturing through ugly Jersey traffic to various work sites, my crewmate, Ben, and I passed by some of the most desolate and destroyed homes on the East Coast. (Had we not been driving with our phones both about to die, I would have taken pictures.) As we crossed a bridge onto a long Jersey island, all you could see was gorgeous homes lined up on the shoreline like in a magazine. Driving closer did we realize that not all of these were the picturesque houses highlighted on the Travel Channel…
Many of these homes were wrecked from top to bottom and thrown about the shoreline. Some had whole halves of them ripped off and plenty were abandoned and marked with spray paint denoting their uninhabitable state. Some looked fine on the outside, but on the inside were completely gutted by water damage, while others suffered serious structural damage driving many families permanently out of their homes.
One of the residents that we talked to is currently renting out an apartment for herself and her 15-year-old son because her house is seeping with water damage, is half gutted and smells of musty drywall. She is recently widowed and has essentially no income since her husband was her business partner. As she was showing us her home, she apologized for getting emotional, and you could tell in her voice that the hurricane not only destroyed her home, but her life. It clawed at my heart to keep hearing stories of how water poured in from the roof and seeing debris thrown over people’s yards and house after house marked with yellow check marks…
Needless to say, this area needs help. And I’m glad Group and other nonprofits are here to help these people restore a part of their lives. Although it may not be much compared to the tremendous losses many of the homeowners here have faced, I really hope we can bring some life back to this town. Meeting these people has made such the difference — it’s not just those pictures on the news anymore. This is real life. People need help, and we’re able to bring that to them. And that’s the best part of my job.
Thanks again for tuning in; my crew will continue help set up and visit work sites these next few days in the Ocean County area and head out to Norristown, PA on Monday. The other crew, Crew M, will be stationed here for 4 weeks helping the victims of Sandy, running workcamps and bringing some love to the area.
Hope to see you all soon!