Three crosses stand erect against a bleak winter sky in front of the BDM volunteer housing in Endicott, NY, as a Lenten reminder of Christ’s sacrifice.
Three crosses stand erect against a bleak winter sky in front of the BDM volunteer housing in Endicott, NY, as a Lenten reminder of Christ’s sacrifice.
Photo by Steve Keim

Volunteers work through winter in Upstate New York 

Jane Yount 
March 15, 2013


Many dedicated souls have been braving blustery winter weather in Binghamton and Prattsville, New York, the sites of two ongoing Brethren Disaster Ministries recovery projects.

Right after this past Thanksgiving, volunteer groups started repairing homes in Binghamton following devastating floods in the Susquehanna River region caused by Tropical Storm Lee in Sept. 2011. “This past weekend the wind chill was 10 below,” reported BDM project leader Nancy Sheen. “We are fortunate as all the work so far has been inside. The homeowners are living in the homes we are working on, so there is an opportunity to hear about their experience and to get to know them.”

BDM volunteers also get to know and serve other members of the community at the “Samaritan Supper” hosted by the First Presbyterian Church every Tuesday. The church, which is the site of BDM’s volunteer housing, offers the meal for the homeless, seniors, and anyone who needs a free meal. Around 70-90 people attend, including many children, and our volunteers help with meal preparation and cleanup.

Meanwhile, over in Prattsville, project leader Tim Sheaffer insists the weather in the Catskills “hasn’t been too frightful…The worst snowstorm we’ve had has only yielded about 10 or 11 inches.” He’s quick to point out that “the spectacle of a true winter wonderland is worth fighting off the chill.”

Sheaffer also shared that they held a House Blessing ceremony for a family, saying, “It is always unanimously the highlight of the week for those who are here – to celebrate a family being able to return to their home after what is always such a long journey.”

As the workload diminishes in Prattsville, BDM is starting to take on some work in Schoharie, about an hour north, in cooperation with SALT (Schoharie Area Long Term). The work there includes some reframing, electrical, and drywall hanging and finishing. One project includes installing siding for a young family, so, as Tim puts it, “Our crews are braving the cold to get their siding on and protect this home and family from the elements.” Now, that’s dedication!