Friday. This was a very interesting day. Neil had a special project for us. There is an old woman who is in the hospital dying of cancer. Her husband is blind, and she just wanted to see if anyone could get some valuables out of her house. The house itself was going to be bulldozed, but she just wanted some valuables. Unfortunately, when we got to the house, it was quite evident that it wasn’t in very good shape. It must have already had a lot of damage before the hurricane, and now it just wasn’t safe for anyone to go inside. So we couldn’t do anything.
I must admit that my initial thought was simply, “oh well, we’ll just move on to the next project.” Then my good friend Dawn Crabb was saying how sad it was that we just couldn’t do anything for this dying woman. She wasn’t concerned with her house or her furniture or rebuilding or any of that; all she wanted was a few special momentos from her home. I’m ashamed that I had felt the way I did. After a week, I had allowed this house to be just another job, and lost sight of the lives that we were touching.
While several of us were waiting outside to hear if we were going to do anything at this house, Pat Hopkins made an interesting observation. He said, “just think that this house was someone’s dream at one time”. This was a very run down neighborhood, and it was indeed interesting to think that these homes were brand new once.
With comments like those made by Dawn and Pat, I can’t help but to be so grateful that I had these folks with me on my crew. I sure did learn a lot about myself this week.
So, nonetheless, we had to move on. We all headed back to the Catholic Charities base at St. Raymond Catholic School to make a potty stop and get our next job. While there, we encountered these really cool dogs that had been there all week. They just walked around among the workers and volunteers like they owned the place. The main thing I noticed about these dogs was that whenever I saw them throughout the week, they always made me smile, especially the black lab puppy.
Neil found another house for us to work on. So we headed over there. This was a two story house, with the top and bottom having different addresses. The bottom portion had already been gutted by Catholic Charities. The owner just wanted us to remove walls and ceilings in the upper portion. But after inspecting the upstairs, it turned out that there was no flood damage there, and therefore it just didn’t meet the criteria that Catholic Charities had established in order for us to work on it. So, it turned out to be another house where we couldn’t do any work.
Since it was already almost noon, and we were hoping to get done a bit early today anyway so we could hit the road, we decided to call it a day. It’s too bad that we came all this way and didn’t do any work today (or yesterday afternoon for that matter), but that’s how it goes. We certainly tried.
So we headed back to camp, took showers and got all packed up. We originally planned to leave town tomorrow morning. But we all figured that if we could get done early today, we could hit the road and get back home some time tomorrow instead of Sunday. We had taken a real nice group photo this morning, so I used some of the extra time to take a few more photos of some fine folks:
Here are a few other miscellaneous photos. This first one is me with John Mueller. John is a hell of a character, and he and I seemed to take a good brunt of the razzing from the rest of the gang (which we probably deserve):
This was definitely not the kind of trip where you could worry about your looks or be too modest. The showers were co-ed, so you never knew who would be next to you. The work was hard and dirty so we wore old clothes and we didn’t have laundry facilities. So you just had to dress for the work and not worry about what others thought (not that the ladies in our group didn’t look good). Nonetheless, here’s Jenny in her girlie pose:
Our seven cars all left town at various times this afternoon. Dick and Dawn and Rick and I hit the highway at 12:30pm. We had a pretty smooth drive home. Not long after we started, about 50 miles into the trip, we stopped for lunch in Ponchatoula, LA (map). While there, I went to Walgreen’s to get some candy necklaces for my daughters. I had a job years ago that took me out of town a lot, and it’s become somewhat of a tradition to bring candy necklaces home for my girls. They used to look forward to that quite a bit when they were little, and now that they’re teenagers, they still get a kick out of me treating them like Daddy’s little girls.
At 8:00pm and 460 miles into the trip, we stopped for dinner at Perkins Restaurant in Blytheville, AR (map). We were able to meet up with John and Carol Mueller who were only a couple miles behind us on the highway. Erin Riley and Courtney Christiansen were riding with the Muellers, so the eight of us had a nice dinner together.
A few hours later, we pulled off at a rest stop to switch drivers. As we pulled out of the rest stop, Pat Hopkins’ SUV whizzed by on the highway, so it was cool to follow a car we knew. Check out his SUV in that photo on the left; yes, that’s an Easter bunny on top. Not long after that, our two cars stopped for gas (I don’t recall where). We were surprised to see Dennis VandenHeuvel and his carload there already. Then a few minutes later, the Muellers pulled in. What a strange coincidence. A trip of 1,200 miles, and four of us all in the same place together. Once we left, it didn’t take long before we were all split up again on the highway.
I managed to sleep a bit while someone else was driving so I could take an overnight shift.