Sisters Helen Nordick and Martha Reed joined 27 teenagers and adults as they vacationed in New Orlerans this summer.  As one of many groups sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Youngstown during the past four years, the travelers’ had a specific goal. Their project, coordinated by Father Edward Brientz, targeted a brick ranch recently purchased by Lisa as a home for herself and her two children. Since the hurricane, the family has been living in public housing-but with government aid, Lisa was able to finance the flood damaged property. helen_martha_neworleans

In three days the volunteers installed insulation and dry wall, removed flooring and tore out the damaged swimming pool, all in heat over 100 degrees. The following week, a new contingent was scheduled to follow up with refinishing and painting. Early August is the anticipated deadline for the renovation to be completed.

The workers were well fed during the work day by Lydia, whose home had been restored earlier. She showed her appreciation by providing lunch daily for the volunteers. Lydia was anxiously awaiting word that a kidney had become available for her older daughter, suffering from diabetes that had left her blind and with damaged kidneys. On the workers’  last day, the call came, and as the group was on the road back to Youngstown, the young woman received both a new kidney and pancreas.

After working 8 hour days beginning at 7:30 a.m., the volunteers relaxed by sampling New Orleans cuisine including the famous Bubba Gumps and Cafe du Mond. They also took a swamp tour, visited the famous Mardi Gras museum and crossed the Mississippi on a ferry.

Following a two-day van ride, the group arrived back in Yooungstown at the end of the week tired and happy with the sense of satisfaction achieved by hard work well done.

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