On the morning of Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit landfall in the southeast part of Louisiana and begun its devastation of the area from central Florida to Texas. Over 1,800 people were killed and $81 billion worth of property damage was destroyed in what became one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
The recovery process was slow and methodical for Community Church-Unitarian Universalist in New Orleans. It wasn’t until April 9, 2011, that the congregation held a service in their new sanctuary. How did they succeed when others floundered or gave up?
“It was a long road. Some roads are highways and some superhighways. This was a bumpy up and down road. We had a vision and we stuck with it,” stated Rev. James VanderWeele.
The work the entire congregation did to reach recovery was carefully thought out so that they kept within financial and volunteer labor limits. Their process was worthwhile. To see expressions of their gratitude for the help they received from partner churches and the general public, view their CCUU Thank You on YouTube.
As I have written about previously, I volunteered in 2006 to help with the post-Katrina decision-making processes that include deciding if their church should merge with another church or rebuild on their own. I also became the representative for my church after we made a donation to CC-UU and became a partner church.
Last Friday, I received the following message from Suzy Mague, former Chair of the Board of Trustees and a wonderful woman who has become a friend:
We at CCUU are thinking of our partners in New York and New Jersey as Irene threatens the east coast. Please pass on to your congregations our concern, and let us know, after it all blows by, how you are faring. Needless to say, if we can help in any way, we’re here for you. Best to all, Suzy
Suzy’s message reminds me that whether you are a volunteer or working to be a leader, what goes around, comes around. And that we should always remember to play it forward.