Last night we meet with Pete Nunnelly, the volunteer coordinator (among many other things!), for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. This gave us an opportunity to learn about the current “state of the city” and to ask him many questions.
We talked about the barriers and complexity that homeowners have in getting back into their homes. City, State and Federal regulations and the “strings attached” to grants and funding continue to keep many away from coming home. We talked about the high demand for volunteers like us to come to New Orleans and provide countless hours of light labor that includes – painting, sheet rocking, insulation installing, etc. This is fundamental to getting people back in their homes.
Pete mentioned that the funding channels are getting more difficult to find. In this economy, government funding is rare and many private sources are drying up. Please know that your support went (in part) directly to providing supplies to the families we worked with. When Joe and Gloria ran out of insulation, it was your support that purchased the addition bundles they needed to complete the project.
We were able to talk with Pete about the Gulf oil spill and he simply said, “The oil spill was just bad.” We discussed at length the how’s and why’s of the oil spill and the politics around it. Basically jobs were lost, lives were put on-hold and now Louisiana is fighting a major image problem. One way we can help is to advocate for Louisiana’s seafood. It is the freshest and safest known – thanks to the watchful eye of the FDA.
In addition, we talked about our Ministry of Presence, which is our ability to be present for people as they share their stories and to be totally in their listening. This week we have heard many people’s stories. One in particular comes to mind – Earlier this week, we all listened to a man weep openly as he shared in detail his experience of Katrina and what he witnessed post Katrina. His beloved city was destroyed and he has been mourning its loss. It was powerful and insightful for us to be reminded that even those who did not loose their homes are suffering too.
At this point in the discussion, our dinner guest, Beverly, arrived. Last year we painted the exterior of Beverly’s Gentilly home. In an earlier blog posting, Jean described Beverly as a gracious, hopeful woman – which is so true! Like Joe and Gloria, we all fell in love with Beverly and her dog, Sweetie, immediately. I have prayed for Beverly daily and it was pure joy to be with her again!
Beverly shared with us news about her family and her neighborhood – All of whom are well! She has a big family with many generations and with it she said, “There is always a little bit of drama!” Her neighborhood is almost completly rebuilt with the final house in her block that was recently demolished and is under reconstruction.
In addition, she shared with us that since we saw her last, she was called out of retirement to support the backlog of social work cases pending in Loiusiana. She asked that we all pray for one of her clients. “Mary” is a young grandmother who is caring for her murdered daughter’s young children. Please pray that “Mary” and the children can stay together as a family and thrive and prosper for many days, months and years to come.
Beverly thanks God every day for the work we did for her and for all who brought us to her. She is thankful to be back in her house and able to serve others. Please know that your supporting our work in New Orleans has and will continue to help many.
With blessings and love to you all – MARY