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Morning Sun
  • Patrick's People - Helping hands

  • Men from Family Life Assembly of God Church have been making mission trips to Louisiana for the past six years to help in ongoing efforts to recover from a succession of hurricanes.

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  • Men from Family Life Assembly of God Church have been making mission trips to Louisiana for the past six years to help in ongoing efforts to recover from a succession of hurricanes.
    “This last year involved from destruction caused by Hurricane Isaac,” said Matthew Hess.
    He was the one who originated the trip.
    “I just wanted to do a construction mission trip, and Katrina gave us an opportunity to help build homes and impact these people’s lives,” Hess said.
    The group, which has included as many as 13 men and as few as three, works through HisHands2Go, a non-profit, faith based organization committed to assisting ministries and individuals in re-establishing themselves in the New Orleans urban community following the devastation of hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and now Isaac.
    “When Katrina hit, this organization committed to work for the next 10 years,” Hess said. “This is their seventh year, but they’ve told us that they’ll go on past the 10th year.
    Hess said that a few years ago some of the men started talking about doing something else.
    “The organization told us that everyone has pretty well forgotten about New Orleans, but that between 30,000 and 40,000 homes are in peril,” Hess said. “There’s still a ton of work needed to help people get back in their homes.”
    He said the major thrust had been to get tourist attractions like Bourbon Street repaired, while less attention was paid to homes.
    “A lot of people whose houses we work on don’t have enough money to hire a contractor to work on them,” Hess said. “The conditions are that you have to own the home and pay for materials.”
    Homeowners contact HisHands2Go and get on the list. The organization assigns groups the jobs they’re supposed to do.
    “Some years we’ve been on a new job every day, others we worked on the same job every day,” Hess said. “One year we a small group of youth went and they had no construction skills, so we spent half a day teaching them to hang sheet rock.”
    Dr. Micky Painter, DVM, explained that when sheet rock gets wet it can become nasty and moldy.
    “We’ve done a lot of sheet rock work,” he said. “We’ve worked all over the city of New Orleans, and also put on vinyl siding, replaced guttering, built a porch and handicap ramps. The first job we had was to gut an old warehouse. Last year we build a hoop house for a church. It’s basically a greenhouse, and the church uses it to grow herbs that they sell to a restaurant  so they can fund projects.”
    For their most recent project the men worked in a home that had suffered through three hurricanes, with that history visible on its walls.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The first time that house was flooded during Hurricane Katrina the water was eight feet high,” Painter said. “Then in Hurricane Gustav there was four feet of water in the house, and in Hurricane Isaac it flooded two feet. We got that out and put in new sheet rock.”
    Making the trip this year, in addition to Hess and Painter, were Travis Burgett, Jim Smith, Kyle Fincher, James Swafford, Mike Chandler and Romesh Navaratnam.
    The men have build relationships as well as porches and ramps.
    “We met people that we go back and see every year,” Hess said. “They tell us the stories of their families and hurricanes.”

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