|Photo by M. Wilson|
|Brethren Disaster Ministries works on a house in Prattsville, N.Y.|
On May 1, more than 75 people gathered at Prattsville Community Church in the New York Catskills to celebrate all the work Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers have done. Delicious dinner and desserts were provided by the church and community for volunteers and homeowners.
Homeowners told their stories as they looked at pictures and remembered the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. “This seemed hopeless,” one homeowner said as many others nodded in agreement, “but the volunteers made it happen, and without that beginning none of us would be here today.”Volunteers laughed and cried as they reminisced about all the work they had done and the people they had met in the 12 months Brethren Disaster Ministries had served there.
After dinner, pastor Charlie Gockel, Brethren Disaster Ministries associate director Zach Wolgemuth, and long-term Disaster Project Leader Tim Sheaffer shared their thoughts about the work that Brethren Disaster Ministries and other volunteer groups had done.
“If it wasn’t for the Brethren, we would have been done,” Gockel remarked. “We could have never made it this far without them.”
When the floor was opened, homeowners began to share their thoughts and memories. Homeowners teared up as they thanked all the volunteers for their service. “You helped us with our homes, but you also helped us to laugh throughout the whole process, which was a great thing,” commented one homeowner.
The service concluded with Pastor Gockel saying a prayer of blessing over the volunteers, who will continue their service up river in nearby Schoharie, N.Y. He also offered up a prayer of blessing for all of the families who will continue to rebuild their lives. Afterward, hugs were shared and stories were told, but no goodbyes were uttered. After 12 months in such a special community, no one was ready to leave.
The community of Prattsville has blessed the lives of the volunteers who served there. And Brethren Disaster Ministries blessed a lot of people in the community of Prattsville. Over 12 months, more than 400 volunteers served 15 families in the town, giving over 2,650 total workdays.
— Hallie Pilcher works at the Brethren Disaster Ministries office in New Windsor, Md., through Brethren Volunteer Service.