SYCAMORE – Twenty-four members of Sycamore United Methodist Church left on Saturday, Feb. 9 for a week of disaster-relief work in the area surrounding Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La., which is in the poorest parish of the poorest state.
In addition to rehabbing buildings ravaged by storm and wear, many of the group will work in the depot, one of only two shipping facilities of the United Methodist Church. Each year millions of dollars in disaster supplies are shipped from the depot to locations around the world at the request of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR. Supplies are also trucked to areas hit by domestic disasters such as Superstorm Sandy. UMCOR Sager Brown also reaches out to its local community by providing volunteer assistance to a shelter for abused women, a Head Start program and a food distribution center.
SUMC volunteers have been lending a hand in Baldwin for the past 10 years, finding the spiritual reward greater than the work itself. They work in the depot packing cleaning buckets, school bags, health kits, layette kits, birthing kits and sewing kits; in the sewing room making garments; or in community agencies, rehabbing homes or campus chores. Devotions are held every day and all groups are brought together for a vespers program summing up the week. Participants enjoy the camaraderie of meeting the home residents and other volunteers. Dorm life is rich with three meals with a Southern flair and much friendly conversation.
Participating this year in the SUMC group are Pastor Bill Landis, team leader Nancy Davis, Marlin and Phyllis Anderson, Becky and Bob Brown, Denise Cheek, Gail Cradduck, Midge and George Hartsuch, Mary Beth Hutchison, Alice and Gil Larimer, Juanita Lemerand, Warren Lowe, Joel Maurer, Shirley Pitman, Lois and Joe Richard, Peggy Simonds, Jennifer Stramaglia, Joe Villa, Kari Waller and Nellie Winters.
After the group gave a solemn promise to "be good ambassadors of our church," the congregation responded, "We rejoice as we recognize you as ambassadors of our church and support you with our prayers as you seek to serve and make a difference in the lives of others."
The group will return Feb. 16. To donate to UMCOR or learn more about UMCOR or the mission trip, call 815-895-9113.