A group of local residents will be making a difference this summer.
Missions of Helping Hands in Brocton will take a trip to Crisfield, Md., to help with Hurricane Sandy damage. For the past several years, the group has traveled to New Orleans and this is the first time they will be traveling to the East Coast.
This won't be the first time Missions of Helping Hands is traveling to Crisfield; members Kevin Weaver and Joe Siragusa traveled to Maryland in October. The group will be traveling to help rebuild after Hurricane Sandy from July 27 through Aug. 2.
Local residents Kevin Weaver and Joe Siragusa are among a group from around the country who traveled to Crisfield, Md., in October. The two locals are a part of Missions of Helping Hands and will be returning to Crisfield in July.
Kevin Weaver of Missions of Helping Hands (left) helps to demolish a home in Crisfield, Md., in the fall.
In previous years, Missions of Helping Hands has traveled to New Orleans to help with rebuilding efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. Weaver learned about Crisfield through Dale Kimball of the Epworth Project, the organization Missions of Helping Hands worked with in New Orleans.
While in Maryland in the fall, the two men worked among a group of about 30 individuals from around the country. According to Weaver, the oldest member of that group was 87 years old. The group worked to demolish a house damaged by the hurricane. The house had been previously in 12 feet of water and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would only reimburse the woman $12,000. The trip was made possible through Jeff Wentz from Pillar of Fire Church in Dunkirk.
According to Weaver, FEMA does not look inside the homes for damage, but only estimates damage on the outside. Everything in the house was damaged by mold from the standing water. The house next door was untouched and the homes across the street had already been rebuilt since they were city-owned housing.
"The city had a house they wanted torn down so they could put a new house up. Thirty of us in three days demolished a house, put it in a dumpster, had it all cleaned up and were in the process of demolishing a second house. They figured we wouldn't get it done but we got it done in three days, Weaver said.
"We found old pictures that her kids made when they were little in the walls. The homeowner just sat there the whole time while we were destroying it for three days just bawling, watching her house and her memories (be demolished)," Weaver continued.
The group this summer will stay at the United Methodist Church in Crisfield. The group will again be working with people from all over the country. According to Weaver, the group will be "roughing it" by sleeping in one large room with the entire group and will use a shower trailer. In New Orleans, the group was staying in a house owned by Epworth Project.
"(A shower trailer) is a trailer outside of where you sleep. Everyone sleeps in the same room. We're housing with people we don't even know and cooking with people we don't even know," Weaver said.
Crisfield is a small town with a population of 1,100. Weaver said there is a McDonald's, three lumber stores and a supermarket; the nearest Walmart is about an hour away. There is a beach about five feet from the church. The group plans to drive to Maryland, about seven hours away, by renting a van. Weaver said the group, which is mostly returning members from New Orleans trips, is excited about the shorter drive. In the past, they have always driven to New Orleans.
"They're excited and nervous at the same time. They're so used to knowing where they're going. This time, I'm the only one that's been there with Joe," Weaver said.
On the way home, the group will stop in Washington, D.C., to do sightseeing. They also have plans to make a trip to Virginia Beach during the week.
There are still five spots open on the trip. The trip costs $450 and the group is fundraising for the trip. The group will hold two car washes at Walmart on June 22 and July 14 from noon to 3 p.m. Funds from the car wash will use to be purchase materials for the trip. Participants need to be 16 years old, unless accompanied by a parent.
To apply for the trip, contact Missions of Helping Hands by calling Weaver at 680-0353, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Missions of Helping Hands. Applications must be received by June 8. Those who do not wish to go on the trip but would like to donate can send donations to Missions of Helping Hands, 8345 Route 380, Brocton, NY 14716.
Weaver would like to thank Alice Alexander, Ginger Weaver and Shelia Siragusa who have always helped with the car washes and the past trips even though they never went on the trips. Weaver said they "do a lot of work behind the scenes."
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