Over a dozen members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio traveled to Hopkins County in Kentucky on a mission trip to help the community rebuild homes after the December tornadoes devastated the area. According to The Messenger, the plan for the mission trip was to help rebuild homes that had been impacted by the tornadoes, but their work turned into more as members of the community, whose homes needed reconstruction not due to the tornadoes, were also helped by volunteers. Partnering with Habitat for Humanity and the Hopkins County Long-Term Recovery Group volunteers embraced all of the projects they were committed to and made a difference in the lives of several families in need.
Heath Duncan, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Pennyrile Region and co-chair of the Long-Term Recovery Group, explained that while they have a couple of houses they are working on that were affected by the tornadoes, they also have five others projects they were already committed to helping prior to the tornadoes. Duncan said, “we have to get these projects done also because these are commitments we have to families,” adding that, “they were living in their own crisis before the tornado.” One member of the church and mission trip leader, Sally Dryer, shared that her team of volunteers was asked to work specifically on a home that needed rebuilding that was not damaged due to a tornado, and they embraced the work.
Duncan explained that there are twelve families who are living in state and FEMA trailers and several families living at Pennyrile State Park, so the church’s help in rebuilding the houses they were working on was still helping tornado survivors by taking on part of the workload the organizations already had that suddenly piled up. Dryer shared that she and the other volunteers learned so much on their mission trip, and were proud to have been able to build a house and help a family.
With the amount of work needing to be done in Hopkins County, Duncan shared that without the church volunteers they would not have been able to make as much progress as they did during the week. Feeling grateful, Dryer said that she and her team are planning to return to the area in about another year to help with housing projects again. Rebuilding these homes is not just about constructing the houses, it is about giving families hope, faith, and comfort as they continue to recover from a crisis that has drastically changed their lives and are able to look forward towards progress due to the kindness and compassion of the volunteers.