Morning Star Presbyterian Church began hosting PDA Sandy Recovery Volunteers the week of June 16th. It was apparent from our first meeting with these wonderful people that God was truly leading us in this new ministry.
It took quite a bit of work to prepare for the first volunteers’ arrival. Some of the necessary tasks were: install showers in the basement bathrooms, purchase cots, construct movable partitions to section off the basement for sleeping areas, put up mini blinds on all basement windows, thorough church cleaning, among other work. Since then we have purchased, and are continuing to purchase, additional items to meet volunteer needs and to make their stay more comfortable and pleasant. Financing of all of this work was made possible through generous grants and through congregation contributions.
Since 6/16 we have hosted 14 groups from the following states: MD, SC, NC, Ohio, VA, Kansas, KY and several groups from PA.
Several volunteer groups have had their pastor accompanying the church members. Many teenagers selflessly gave up a week of their summer vacation to help Sandy victims. Most of these teens have been volunteering in disaster recovery teams for the past 3 or 4 years.
One volunteer was a professor from Kansas. When some of his students learned that he was coming to NJ with his church to lend a hand they immediately volunteered to come along.
Quite a few of the volunteers have been over the age of 50, several over 70 years old and one over 80 years old. In spite of health issues and personal tragedies, they wanted to ‘give back’ without hesitation. These volunteers have exhibited as much energy and enthusiasm as the teens! They have also come with many skills, much needed by the homeowners.
Every Thursday the Morning Star congregation provides a dinner for the week’s volunteers to show our deep appreciation for all of their hard work and for all they have done for our community.
It has been extremely gratifying hosting these amazing volunteers. Each person has been a beacon, shining the light of Christ in the community. Each brings the presence of God to each homeowner in need, letting him/her know that people do care about them and are honored to help. The PDA volunteers have truly been a blessing to us all!
~Elder Janice Maslo, coordinator and historian