An Amazing Woman

HandsThe Volunteer Village housed groups during the weeks of April 10 and April 17. Both groups were divided into two work groups, one working in Ocean County and the other working in Monmouth County. The group that worked in Monmouth County hung sheet rock in the home of a woman I will call Anna. One night during the second week, the volunteer group invited Anna, Henry, and myself to a dinner they hosted in the annex.

As we shared a meal, Anna told us her story. Anna doesn’t live near any water, but her home received roof damage caused by wind followed by water damage during Sandy. Because she and her husband lived a good distance away from the major storm-ravaged areas, she didn’t hear about mold. The couple patched their roof and went back to work. Shortly afterwards, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and eight months later, his earthly days were over. Anna continued to live in the house and work full time as a counselor to her drug abuse clients. As time passed, her health began to fail. She started making the rounds from doctor to doctor to find out just what was wrong. One doctor told her she was just depressed. She knew that wasn’t the case and refused the narcotic medicine that was prescribed for her. Finally, she ended up in the office of an allergist. After some tests, she learned she was allergic to several types of mold. One Sunday, she related the story to a church friend. The friend sent a contractor to her home. Once the contractor entered her home he told her that her house was loaded with mold. She had a professional come out and do tests and the worst was confirmed.

Anna was told she would have to leave her home and all her possessions. Although she has four grown children, none live close enough to provide shelter for her. So, like so many other Sandy victims, she moved into a motel. She started the long process of filling out forms, looking for help, etc. This whole time, her health was still failing and she had to reduce her work load to part time.

Her church pastor was her greatest source of support. She said there were many times she just wanted to abandon her house and start over. He encouraged her to keep going. She has lived in three different motels and is now in an apartment. She has spent all of her savings including her 401K. But, with the help of so many volunteers, she hopes to be back in her home around July 4.

Volunteer Village 2When she related her story, she sounded weary, but not bitter. She is thankful that through it all she never had to sleep in her car and never missed a meal, although sometimes her dinner was a piece of bread. She thanks God for the strength he has given her. As a result, she has started a group at her church for others in similar situations as a way to “pay it forward”.

When you hear hear such a story, you can’t help but be thankful that through the Volunteer Village, Point Pleasant Presbyterian was able to provide Anna with some of the help she needed.

Nancy Stout

Groups Scheduled for our Volunteer Village in 2016

Sunday, May 22 – Lend A Hand
Sunday, June 5 – Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Modesto CA
Saturday June 18 Drayton Ave Presbyterian Church, Ferndale MI
Sunday, August 21 – Lend A Hand
Thursday October 6 – Lend A Hand