Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pick Up a Shovel, Yo

Several downs within an hour drive of where I live have been completely devastated by Hurricane Irene.  It took me a few days to get my act together and start doing something to help out with this, mostly because I was waiting for other people who said they were doing something about it to get their act together, but finally I decided to just go ahead and start organizing because it needed to be done and, well, let's face it - I'm a lot better at organizing than I am at the actual labor part of all of this.

Anyway, I was down at one of the sites yesterday, cleaning mud off of body bags at a funeral home (yes, really - and no, there were no people in the bags) and shoveling piles of refuse (which we used to call "walls" and "ceiling") out of the basement of a church.  Most of the buildings there have been completely gutted, the piles of soggy insulation, drywall, and carpet lining the streets.  There is a roof in the church parking lot.  Just the roof; it floated off of someone's house.  The amount of damage is unbelievable.

So, here is the thing that is annoying me today.  This is all happening very close to where I live.  Some of it is happening two blocks from my church.  I preached this sermon on Sunday about getting through crisis, and how we all need to pitch in if we want these people and communities to make it.  People loved this sermon.  Yes, yes, you're so right, we should totally help people, etc.  Then I asked for volunteers to go to the affected areas and spend a few hours wielding a hose, sponge, or shovel.  I said I would take people down every day this week, so we could accommodate different schedules.  How many volunteers do you think I got?  Yeah...not as many as people who told me what a great sermon it was.  What it comes down to is this: they're glad our church is doing something to help, but "our church" really means "someone else," namely me and the few other people who have stepped forward.

I....just don't get it.  I don't understand how you can know that people down the street and in the areas surrounding you have lost EVERYTHING, and not feel the need to help.  I do understand that some people don't have the physical capability to haul wheelbarrows of wet building materials, but there are a lot of different things that need to be done.  I guess I was hoping that all of these people saying, "We should do something to help" would equal a large turnout of people actually doing something to help.  Apparently not.

That said, if you are in the area, we'll have work groups (of indeterminate size) going out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week.  Drop me a comment or, if you know me, get in touch by email or phone, and I'll set you up.  If you can't do it this week but still want to help, let me know.  We are talking months worth of work here, so it's not going to run out before you're available.

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