Volunteers Needed In New Orleans


Anyone can be taught to tear down a mold-infested home with a sledgehammer, but not as many people are available when it is time to rebuild that home from the rubble.

As time passes, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is a distant memory for most Americans.


As time passes, the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is less and less, in the public eye. Volunteers at Camp Restore provide an answer, one home at a time.

But for the citizens of New Orleans, there is so much rebuilding to be done and volunteers are still needed.

Although the French Quarter in New Orleans is up and running, there are still more than 100,000 homes in need of repair and remodeling.

Pastor Ed Brashier, director of Camp Restore, a nonprofit organization that supplies free labor for home remodels in New Orleans, will give a presentation on Sunday at Shepherd of the Pines Lutheran Church. The service will be held at 10 a.m., followed by a soup and salad luncheon at 11:30 a.m., when Brashier will give his presentation.

Camp Restore officially opened March 1, 2006, but Brashier, his family and other people involved in Epic Ministries, first went to New Orleans two weeks after the hurricane hit, to help wherever they could.

The Brashiers made a lasting connection with a local family, the Blackwells.

"The Blackwells took our team under their wings, fed us Cajun meals, as a way of giving back for the work we were doing," Brashier said.

In the past, Epic Ministries primarily concerned itself with inner city churches, but when Katrina hit, they saw a need and began to answer it.

Teams that went to help slept in tents.

Eventually, Epic was able to take a water-logged school and church and converted the classrooms into dormitories and the gym to a dining hall for helpers. Now, there is even air conditioning. They call it Camp Restore.

"EPIC stands for Experiential Partnerships in Christ," said Epic's pastor, Larry Bell. "Our goal is to organize people, get them down there so they can get the job done. We have volunteers doing drywall painting and carpentry."

"Whenever someone comes in and asks to be put on the list, they have the same story of tragedy," Brashier said.

They lost loved ones. They lost their home of 40 years and more.

"Our hearts break because we can't put them at the start of the list and we can't get the work done fast enough," Brashier said.

There are 650 homes on Restore's waiting list.

They have 25 houses active this week, but only a dozen volunteers to work on them. Camp Restore has 120 beds for volunteers.

Proselytizing is not the goal of Epic or Restore.

According to Epic's Web site, www.epic-ministries.com, "We bring the love of our Savior to people by hands-on service."

"We are organizing trips for anyone locally who wants to go and help," Bell said.

There is room for people to go on the next planned trip. It is planned for the first week of November, but if 10 or more people can come to an agreement on a date, an earlier group could be organized.

Bell estimates the cost of the trip, including transportation, will be between $500 and $600.

"If someone really has the heart to go and cannot afford the whole amount, there are scholarships available," Bell said. "Cost is sometimes a major hurdle and we don't want that to keep someone from going."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.