HOUSTON—Houston expected hundreds of thousands of visitors for festivities surrounding the Super Bowl, but about 60 Texas Baptist Men volunteers arrived in the city to help homeowners rather than focus on football.
TBM and its long-term recovery ministry sponsored a Super Week of Caring, Jan. 29-Feb. 4. Construction volunteers worked on more than 20 projects at five homes, helping residents recover from disasters.
Most of the projects grew out of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Blue Tarp program. The initiative is designed to provide a more permanent solution for residents of the Acres Homes neighborhood in northwest Houston whose roofs have been covered with tarps since Hurricane Ike in 2008.
After contractors replaced the roofs, TBM long-term recovery volunteers helped homeowners with other needs, particularly interior damage caused by leaky tarps.
“Many of these homes have been hit three times—first by Hurricane Ike nine years ago, by the Memorial Day floods in 2015 and by the Tax Day floods in April 2016,” said Gerald Davis, TBM long-term recovery coordinator.
Elmo Johnson, pastor of Rose of Sharon Missionary Baptist Church in Houston’s Fourth Ward, grew up in the Acres Homes neighborhood after his family moved to Houston from rural Louisiana. He welcomed the opportunity to work as a long-term recovery volunteer in the area.
“This means the world to me,” Johnson said. “This home where we’re working was probably here back when I was in school. … It’s like coming back around full circle to where I started.”
For James and Barbara Guilbeaux, last year’s flood marked the latest in a series of setbacks dating to Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, when their home first sustained damage.
A crew from Wylie Baptist Church in Abilene performed extensive repairs on the Guilbeaux home, including replacing rotted exterior siding, kitchen flooring, interior ceilings, drywall and a sliding-glass door.
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“This is such a boost,” James Guilbeaux said. “I got overwhelmed by everything that happened. But when the people who are working here leave, we will be miles ahead.”
Between bad experiences with unscrupulous contractors and an unwillingness to accept free labor, he acknowledged initial reservations.
“It felt kind of strange, because I’ve never been one who wanted anything for free. I always paid for everything,” he said.
“When help comes like this, it motivates me to do likewise. It’s such an inspiration to me. … Maybe I can show my gratitude by giving to somebody else.”
Barbara Guilbeaux, who is taking chemotherapy after a bout of lymphoma, understands what her husband means about feeling “overwhelmed” by circumstances. But mostly, she feels overwhelmed by thanksgiving.
“I’m just so thankful. I feel so blessed, I just want to jump up and shout,” she said. “I didn’t see it coming, but you never know what God has for you.”
TBM long-term recovery has scheduled additional home-repair mission projects March 8-11 and June 11-16 in Brazoria; March 12-16, June 19-24 and July 16-21 in Southeast Texas; March 13-17 in Jennings, La.; and July 9-14 in Houston. To register a group, click here.
Home-repair weekends also are scheduled April 27-29 and Sept. 28-30 in Southeast Texas and May 25-27, Aug. 24-26 and Oct. 26-28 in the greater Houston area. To register a group, click here.