Volunteer relief group gives credit to God

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2013

By Richard Meek
Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – Their orange shirts have become a symbol of hope in a region still showing the scars of Hurricane Isaac.
For the past several days nearly 2,500 volunteers representing more than 40 states and four countries have blanketed St. John the Baptist Parish, repairing homes, restoring faith where faith was lost and occasionally lending a shoulder to cry on. Volunteers from Tupelo, Miss.-based Eight Days of Hope have been in the LaPlace area since Saturday, repairing homes as well
as parish playgrounds, all damaged during Isaac.
“They have restored families, restored hope, home, restored lives,” Councilman Marvin Perrilloux said during a parish council meeting Tuesday night. “We are forever grateful.”
Eight Days of Hope spokesman Wayne Vanlandingham told council members Tuesday that volunteers had completed 262 projects in 196 homes since Saturday, noting many of the homes where they are working have multiple projects. Just on Tuesday, he said, volunteers worked on 222 individual projects, and since Saturday all of the projects had been completed in 19 homes.
“It’s a privilege to be in your community serving you,” he said “All of these volunteers traveled a long way to serve you.”
“Residents think they are blessed,” Van-landingham added. “Our hearts are full (because of) serving you.”
He praised parish administrators, especially Parish President Natalie Robottom, for their assistance and having prepared everything early so when they arrived work could immediately begin without any delays. He also praised Pastor Checkerz Williams of Celebration Church, who originally initiated contact with the organization through a mutual acquaintance.
“A lot of people thought it was their last resort,” Councilman Michael Wright said.
“(Volunteers) keep thanking me,” Council-man Lucien Gauff III said. “I’m amazed by that. They keep saying ‘It’s God.’ Thank God.”
Volunteers, who can be identified by the orange shirts they are wearing, are scheduled to wrap up
work Saturday but not before raising the spirits and faith for many where hope had been lost.
“I’m amazed that 2,500 people have one thing in common and that is to help other people, to help St. John Parish,” Councilman Larry Snyder said. “All I can say is thank you.”