On the last Sunday in September, twelve sets of willing hands left from the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church of Allentown to brave the streets of New York City as they headed off to the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica. This group of dedicated volunteers have become an extended family because of the many mission work trips they have taken together to help rebuild homes and bring hope to those affected by a disaster such as Super Storm Sandy. Along with the hard work there is a lot of love and laughter.
After travelling about 45 minutes from Allentown, they stopped for a much needed coffee break which was the first of many that week. They would find that all these coffee breaks would pose a problem for some later in the week due to the fact that several folks seemed to forget where the van was parked after returning from getting their morning brew.
Their arrival in Jamaica was anything but ordinary. They arrived at the church, which would be their home for the week, in grand style as they pulled up in the middle of a wedding. One of our volunteers was invited to sit inside the Rolls Royce. The phones came out and pictures were snapped. Now her mug shot is all over the internet!
During this trip they worked with the Friends of Rockaway, one of several organizations running work camps in the area. On Monday morning they were off to an orientation meeting at the warehouse in Rockaway Beach. (You think that Route 22 in Pennsylvania is bad in the A.M., think again! The traffic is unbelievable.) It was here that they were given their work orders, names of site leaders and the lists of jobs to be done. Over the next week they would work on three different houses and started off by splitting into two groups.
The first house was located in Breezy Point, a gated beach town. Our Helping Hands volunteers had worked on this house on their spring trip. On this trip, the front patio roof was dangling in the breeze so they installed new footers and posts, stabilized the attachment points to the house, frame enclosed the gable end, installed nailers for ceiling soffit, and installed rafter ties. Inside the house, they framed rough openings for six windows, made window jams, and installed the windows. They also, framed one bedroom doorway and enclosed the same, made a new doorway in a different wall, made door jams for three doorways, and did some insulation.
The second house was located in Rockaway Beach. Here the volunteers removed the installed laminate flooring, saving as much as they could and then re-install the same. It was a slow and tedious job. By the end of the week they had completed several rooms.
For the third house, several volunteers from the previous group split off for one day to install a counter top. After much leveling and fitting they managed to attach it and still get home in time to dandy themselves up to go out for dinner.
On their trips to Jamaica and Point Pleasant, the Helping Hands volunteers had the opportunity to work with many young people from Americorp. These young folks came from all over the country. They were hard working, responsible, and always a pleasure to be with. Our hats go off to them.
The Helping Hands volunteers had a great trip and much work was completed in order to get families closer to being back in their homes. They met many new folks, they still have all their digits J, they’ve seen a different part of the country and had many, many laughs!!!!
You can learn more about the Helping Hands Care Team and their mission trips by visiting the Lehigh Presbytery website at https://lehighpresbytery.org/our-faith-community/care-teams/helping-hands/
They are always looking for volunteers and new team members! Why don’t you join them on their next trip and become part of this family that is rebuilding homes and hope to those who have lost so much. You can contact the Presbytery office (610-391-9020, ) or Sandy Jenkins (610-298-2106, )
Lehigh Presbytery Helping Hands