God’s Work, Our Hands! 2021
Christ Our Shepherd Peachtree City, GA
Disaster Mission Team at work in Newnan, GA!
When a disaster strikes a community some of the impact is easy to see while other impacts are not as easy to understand. Like many communities that experience disaster, the people in the Newnan, GA are finding this out following the March tornado that struck their area.
Disasters show people where the cracks are in their community. Affordable housing issues, familial “deeded” homes, gaps in insurance, differences in living conditions, deferred maintenance, and financial difficulties all present real challenges for city leaders, churches, and other nonprofits. Add a pandemic on top of these issues and it provides an interesting dynamic for leaders trying to help their communities.
Christ Our Shepherd in Peachtree City has an established Disaster Ministry Team that has been on four previous mission trips to assist others following a disaster. This disaster, however, hit closer to home. As we wanted to assist we began looking for opportunities to do so. We discussed taking a project from beginning to the end as we didn’t have the housing or other logistical issues of traveling to the location and each member could return home at night. We connected with the long-term recovery volunteer coordinator and offered our services. RiverLife is serving as the long-term recovery volunteer coordinator.
It takes some time for long-term recovery groups to form and become functional, but we have found a wonderful project. Hope Global has been working in a neighborhood in Newnan that has many of the challenges listed above. By building trust with the community they have an after school program and many other services related to affordable housing and assistance to get people on a pathway to a more sustainable situation.
Hope Global had previously purchased a home across from the community center where their programs are based. Their plan was to rehab the home into 2 separate apartments so that clients could have a 12 month place to live while putting together a plan to get them to more stable housing for their families. That was the plan until the tornado hit that neighborhood. Hope Global sprang into action helping their community by providing assistance for safe, functional and secure housing following the tornado damage which put their own rebuild project on hold as the damage it received wasn’t as bad as other homes in the community.
The long-term group volunteer coordinator hooked us up with Hope Global and following some organizational meetings to define the project, an informational meeting with those willing to help we began working on 4 September. We are using a crew or team approach with each team choosing a room to work on. In addition to our work crews, our social services ministry is collecting gift cards for Lowes and Home Depot to support the building project and grocery gift cards to help support the after-school program at the Hope Center run by Hope Global. By coordinating ministries Christ Our Shepherd has made this a congregational ministry supporting the ELCA theme of “God’s Work Our Hands”.
Here is an update on our progress:
- Family room – all paneling that was damaged has been taken out and new paneling installed except for a piece that the plumber needs access to, trim and molding needs to be rehung and then it is ready to clean and paint
- Bedroom 1 – all damaged drywall and paneling has been repaired or replaced, the room has been spackled and wiped down and almost ready for paint
- Bedroom 2 – all work is finished except for replacing one broken window molding piece and then it is ready to be painted
- Hall bathroom – ceiling drywall removed due to damage and replaced with mold-resistant drywall. Need to tape and mud and sand. Subfloor needs to be replaced. Room needs cleaning and painting
- Hall ready to paint when other rooms are finished as it is only access to back of house
- Laundry Room work is finished and ready to paint
- Bedroom 3 with bathroom – waiting on electrician to clear issues so that we can put up the drywall and paneling. Needs shelves in bathroom.
- Kitchen – Waiting on several structural issues to be resolved so that we can begin in this room.
- Front porch – have workday scheduled to repair steps, install missing slats to comply with code. When there is water available we can pressure wash and paint
- Front door – we have secured a donated steel door to replace the existing door and need to rehang it so the building can be properly secured.
Yesterday we had a predominately all women crew. We enjoyed working with measuring, cutting, and installing drywall in the bathroom. They especially enjoyed learning to use a jigsaw to cut drywall as small edges are easier that way. They said power tools were awesome!
So far we have had 20 people working at various times with over 200 volunteer hours to date. We began on 4 Sept, 2021.
Submitted by: Mary Brunso, Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church