This I Believe

Mahlon - Chico, California
Entered on September 18, 2006

Helping Our Own

As a nation, we had a huge natural disaster on the coast of Louisiana in the shape of Hurricane Katrina and major flooding ensued during the storm. You saw people helping each other on the T.V., but if you were like me, you wanted to be there to help. I believe in helping one another, the wanting and working to help your community and others. Not just an impulse to help someone once, but to have the desire to do it again and again.

I had the rare experience to help in New Orleans over Easter Break. The group I went with was the senior class from the Neighborhood Church high school youth group. My group helped an organization called Youth With A Mission or Y.W.A.M. for short. Our group made three tier bunk beds, set tile and grouted it all in the kitchen. On the outside of the house a friend and I put up the composite siding. The area that needed to be replaced was about twenty-five feet wide and thirty feet tall. The siding alone took three full days of working from 8:30 in the morning to 6:00 in the evening. The other projects inside the house only took two days to get the work done. The work itself wasn’t very hard and neither was the weather.

It was like a normal Chico summer with the same humidity and around 80 degrees for most of the week. After finishing the Y.W.A.M. house, we shifted our efforts to a man by the name of Wally. Wally’s house had been flooded and only the keepsakes in the attic weren’t ruined in the flood. Our group and another group gutted the house. The only things in his house were the floor and the wall studs. This had to happen before we could rebuild. Wally’s reaction surprised me. Wally just couldn’t believe that people he didn’t even know would help him so much, and for many hours a day. His reaction was what really made the trip worthwhile. Wally’s gratitude just made me feel like I had done something important. You might have seen his house on T.V.

The news that covered Katrina didn’t convey the damage at ALL! By watching on T.V. you really couldn’t grasp the destruction. The 9th Ward was honestly hit the worst. Try to imagine a concrete foundation with no house on it. Many houses looked like this in that area. They were just gone. Another house had an upside down truck on the front porch with the house sitting on top of the truck. The reason many of these houses were either in the back yard or gone completely was because the levee broke and it spread to a massive gap. You probably saw helicopters dropping one ton sand bags in the gap of the levee trying to plug it up. These examples give you an idea of the utter destruction.

My group only did a little in the rebuilding of New Orleans, but that still contributed to the overall effort. When helping your own people you get a satisfaction that you have done something good. After that experience I tell everyone that if they get the chance to help in New Orleans to jump on it, because it’s extremely rewarding. It’s an experience that I will never forget. Not to mention you are helping your country, people, and our way of life. To finally help in our own country just meant so much to me as an American. Helping our neighbors is a very gratifying experience, and something I believe in.