HOPE worldwide volunteers gathered in Baton Rouge Louisiana over Labor Day Weekend to help victims of the recent floods which devastated areas of Southeast Louisiana. The catastrophic floods, being called the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy, claimed 13 lives and destroyed numerous homes and communities - resulting in upwards of 100,000 homes being damaged.
Along with our partner Operation Blessing, about 140 HOPE worldwide volunteers gathered from over six states in Durham Springs, Louisiana offering much-needed helping hands to people whose homes were ruined, many of whom lost all their possessions. The eager volunteers came with willing hearts and able bodies to do physical labor for people who just couldn’t do it alone. They gutted homes - clearing out furniture, electronics, dry wall, and carpets - emptying homes of all contents ruined by flood waters. Neighborhoods in the affected areas were left with both sides of the street lined with large piles of debris--moldy mountains of personal effects, signs of the long road to recovery for many famililes.
It was moving for residents and volunteers alike who witnessed the power of people coming together despite differences in the face of tragedy. Wade Cook, VP of US programs, himself an eager volunteer, said “Weather doesn’t discriminate and neither do people when tragedy strikes. The spirit everywhere was one of unity.” Wade continued, "The only questions we asked were 'Are you flooded and in need?' If so, you are Louisiana!"
For a more vivid depiction of what happened during the ‘Labor of Love’ weekend watch the inspiring video update created by HOPE worldwide media partner ICOC Hot News.
Dr. Rin Receiving the Empathy Amplified AwardClick here to watch .
Jenny Harkabus spent Christmas serving in the Philippines. She wrote this, and also made a short video:
I did not imagine that I would be spending Christmas in the Philippines for my first HOPE Youth Corps experience. This opportunity has deeply changed my perspective on the importance of service in my daily walk.
We are created in God's image, therefore we are meant to help and serve others. I know this to be true because I have never felt so used by God and fulfilled, than the times spent serving and pouring out my love in the Philippines.
James 1:27 says, " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Some translations refer to this as true religion. The bible also stresses the importance of giving to the poor (1 John 3:17, Matt 9:21, Proverbs 14:31). God considers caring for the poor and orphans as true religion, yet this can be an area of faith that is overlooked.
I was privileged to spend time with girls who have experienced trauma and abuse at the HOPE worldwide center in Laguna. Many of these girls have been separated from their families, becoming orphans, as a result of the abuse they have experienced. I also received the opportunity to play with children within the community as we rebuilt their homes and provided them with medical care. I witnessed the children’s precious value for human relationships, as they clung to me emotionally and physically. They showed me instant love and respect, which I find to be rare in today’s society. Our focus should be about investing in others just as the children in the Philippines invested in me.