Today was a day of transition for our team. We arrived at a new work site and joined a team from, of all places, Nashua, NH! Lots of sheetrocking to be done and eventually mudding, sanding, painting, etc to move the house along to completion. We said goodbye to the Holmans after lunch as they flew home to attend to prior commitments.
Like all the previous 5 years I’ve come down on mission, the work we do, the hammering, painting, sawing, has little to do with why we’re really here. Sure, we help to keep the rebuilding going, a week’s work hopefully leaving our houses better off than when we arrived. But in the end it’s my feeling that our mission is way beyond the tasks of rebuilding a home.
As they waited for their plane, Larry emailed a thought which rings very true here: the thought was of resilience. The ability to become strong, to become healthy again after something bad happens. The people of New Orleans are defined by their resiliency. They know of catastrophic disasters that have ravaged their beautiful city, leaving so many homeless and heartbroken yet they are resilient. They know of Katrina and it’s 20′ storm surge. They know the 1,800 people who lost their lives and still they are resilient. Where so many would have picked up and left, they choose to pick up the broken pieces and find a way to put them back together. And slowly, purposefully their resilience is rewarded. 100% of all homes and businesses here were affected by Hurricane Katrina but 10 years later they are finding their way.
I hear about resiliency in the stories that inevitably come every year. Stories like Miss Patricia’s. Bound to a wheelchair and robbed of her savings by a contractor’s promise, she kept her faith and found a way to become stronger, to become healthier. She reached out to the people of Saint Bernard Project and they rewarded her with a rebuilt home, a safe home, a home that shows tangible proof of her resiliency. Although she probably told her story dozens of times, her eyes still tear up as she recounts her own ordeal.
I met a man today that with countless others, lost everything including his dogs. He had grown up here and knew the streets like the back of his hand yet when he came back after the storm, there were no street signs, only mangled houses and cars. He was unable to find what was left of his home for 2 days. He grew up here and couldn’t find his way home but he knew his home was here and he rebuilt. Through his resiliency, he sits in his yard and tells his tale.
You had it right Larry, resilience is the perfect word for today. We’ll come down and do what we can. Over 500 homes have been rebuilt through Saint Bernard Project and there’s over 150 more to go and counting. Resiliency gets these people through the toughest of times and resiliency is the reason I choose to come back.