Thursday, February 28, 2008

From Rich on the Importance of Volunteering

This was sent a few days ago, but was somehow lost in the shuffle. It is From Rich Bilodeau at Randy's Rangers in Pass Christian:

BonaResponds Spring Break Trip Reflection

February 25, 2008

A story of inspiration and the value of volunteer work

Yesterday we spent sometime moving wood, tools, and other resources to one of the sites where we are building a shed. The shed is for a family that moved to Mississippi about a year ago as survivors of a post Katrina New Orleans. They built a new home about 30 minutes driving distance from Randy’s Rangers, (one of the sites we are staying at while down here.) She and her children left their apartment in New Orleans a few days before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the city. She had no idea that Hurricane Katrina would take everything she had. Since her and her four children’s displacement they lived in various places, one including a FEMA trailer for nine months. She said that the nine months spent living in the FEMA trailer was one of the most arduous experiences of her life. Now she is happy to have left New Orleans and has no desire to return, she loves her new home. Her children love that they can play in their own backyard. It is great to hear a story of success in an area that is still dominated by devastation.

Today we spent a good part of the day completing the floor of the Shed and we managed to raise two walls. The Children returned home from school and immediately came outside to spend time with us as we worked. A few of us played football and basketball with them in between working on the shed. It was great to spend time with them. Once it started getting dark we packed up and headed back to Randy’s (all 12 of us on the back of a utility trailer with no walls). It was an interesting trip needless to say, between the side trips of going circles in stony parking lot and ironically hitting every pot-hole on the road, Randy managed to make it more fun than it should have been. It was a comical site to see and experience, one I will never forget and one I must relive tomorrow.

Upon returning to camp Jerry and I took sometime to check out the area around us and we got some great photos. Jerry brought me to the former site of a home that is now marked by a staircase leading to an empty foundation and a realty sign out front (an all too common site to see down here). However, this place was different than the others. It was marked by a hand painted sign leaned against the massive, still standing, dead tree. The sign read “Lie down and bleed for a while, then get up and fight.” The seen was incredibly surreal and somewhat disturbing. While I stood there it evoked in me the sense of loss and suffering these people have and continue to experience that most of us cannot begin to understand or relate to. While a grim reminder of all that is still wrong here, it also served as a reminder to all that is yet to be accomplished. Our country has lied down and bled, but it is the people who comprise BonaResponds that stand up and continue the fight over two years after Katrina!

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