Paul enjoyed his time with Habitat for Humanity so much, he went back to do some more good. Once again, he was kind enough to email me with tidbits about the good work going on in New Orleans. It is easy to forget about Katrina and what happened there in the day to day stuff of life, but there are still so many people who haven’t been able to have their normal day to day ever since the hurricane hit. Thanks to people like Paul and others who give time and compassion, some of those people are getting their homes back. Please, when you can, go help. We plan to take a trip down to build some homes as soon as the baby gets a little bigger.
Paul wanted me to assure everyone that he feels as safe in New Orleans as does in any American city, and that the volunteers he has met have all rocked on repairing these homes, even when they came in with no prior experience. Here is his latest update:
Hey everyone! Thought I’d send you a quick update on things down here. A group of volunteers from Pennsylvania are staying at Camp Hope, and I’ve been very kind to them despite their earlier attempts to trash talk my Rockies! Now that it’s 2-0, they’re not so vocal any more.
Anyhow, I’ve worked three straight days for the St. Bernard Project. They take flooded homes, gut them of everything but the brick and wood structure, and rebuild from the inside. The home I’m working on is almost finished. If you received my first update from my last visit, you might remember the homeowner from the Anderson Cooper CNN video link I sent out. If not, here it is again.
In the video, you’ll see Joe Urbeso. Joe got out of town the day before the hurricane hit and has not lived in his home for the past two years. Joe told me that he paid of his home in full before the storm. Katrina wiped out both his house and his business. For the past two years Joe has lived most of the time in Houston, but he’s now with relatives in the area. At first, I didn’t realize I was working on Joe’s home until I met him the first evening I was working there. I had only planned to work on the home for one day, but after I met Joe, I decided I’d stay on the job until his place is ready (how can I say no to the guy??!!!). I’ve attached a photo which depicts Joe and his two children along with fellow volunteers from Ohio, D.C., North Carolina, and New York City. I’m the goofy guy on the upper left (I’m the only “short timer”-type volunteer – the others in the photo have been here for months).
Just like last time, I hope you can tell your friends and relatives about the volunteer possibilities down here. All types of people stay at Camp Hope and work on projects throughout the New Orleans area. There are men and women of all ages here this week. Some are staying for just a week. Others longer. The parking lot was overflowing last night and is currently clearing out as folks leave for their day of work. It’s difficult work in hot and humid conditions (I’m really sore this morning), but it feels good to help people like Joe.
On the lighter side: an Americorps volunteer thought I was “Stone Cold Steve Austin,” a famous WWF professional wrestler; we found a frog in a toilet in Joe’s home on Tuesday morning (but we didn’t tell Joe!); although “quiet hours” begin at 11PM each night that didn’t stop me from yelling like crazy when the Rockies beat the Padres in 13 innings (it was 11:30PM here!); and one of the locals said that he’s never seen so many people watch a televised baseball game in his life (apparently they only watch football down here!).
So, you should get down to ‘Nawlins soon to help out!!!
Just an additional sidebar…..the home we’re working on during “women’s build” is for a member of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s office and his wife. He stayed through the storm and spent countless hours rescuing people afterwards. He and his wife brought us lunch today too!
Thanks again Paul!