After attending the GO ministry dinner last May, Bob and Nancy Schorr decided to work with their Sunday school class to use one of the $1000 GO grant gift cards to help someone in the community who had been affected by Hurricane Harvey. “We were trying to do something more than just spend $1000 and be gone,” Bob recalls. Along with Karen Cambias and Paula Miller, Bob and Nancy attended a benefit dinner that Don and Lynn Nichols were hosting at St. Timothy’s in East Houston where they met Maria Lane, a single mother of five who was struggling to recover from Harvey.
Don and Bob visited Maria as representatives of their Sunday School class to see what she needed. The children - Delia, 14, who was entering 8th grade; Reyna, 12, entering 6th grade in a STEM program; Gerald, 9, entering 4th; Jose, 2 years old; and Jesus, 9 months old - had pressing needs for diapers, school clothes, shoes, and school supplies. The original $1000 gift card was used by the Sunday school class for these immediate and back to school needs.
While they were there, Bob and Don observed the sobering state of the double-wide modular home that Maria and her children lived in. The home took in about 6” of water during Harvey and floated off its piers. Releveling caused a separation along the centerline, where the two sides of the house are joined, resulting in roof damage and leaks. The 11-year-old central air conditioner was broken, the water heater was 14 years old, and the combination of age, mold, and roof leaks made the home all but inhabitable.
Mold on the back of the house
Gap in the roof line
Don Nichols recalls walking down the street with Bob after taking in the ravaged home. “I remember looking at Bob with this heavenly glow saying, ‘We’re going to get them a new trailer.’ I didn’t believe it at first, but I looked at his face again and I saw the glow of God and I realized they’re getting a new trailer.”’ After their visit, Don discovered the Christian Tabernacle’s Harvey Hope program that was taking applications to provide new modular housing for families with limited means who had been affected by Harvey. Don and Bob made a plan to assist Maria with her application.
The Sunday school class pitched in and continued to contribute generously in various ways with their time and money throughout the long project. As an example, Meg Rice took the girls on a shopping spree at the Guild Shop. Another Life Group donated their $1000 gift card, and the church paid the first year’s property and flood insurance from the Harvey Relief fund. But the drive to provide a new home for Maria and her family spread far beyond St. John the Divine.
“Every time I thought we’d come to a dead end, our heavenly father, God opened it up for us,” recalls Don. The United Way provided funds for the house. Youth Reach Houston helped with labor and cleanup after the demolition. Baker Ripley secured a hotel room for two months so the family would have a place to stay while the home was demolished and replaced. Episcopal Relief and Development's Home Sweet Home project and the Diocese of Texas Quin Foundation provided additional funds. High Socks for Hope of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Faith Lutheran Church of Dickinson provided the furniture.
Maria and her family move in
Off to a good start!
The new 4-bedroom house is now home to Maria, her children and two sisters - long-time friends of the family - whose father is deceased and whose mother was deported last fall. On February 2, volunteers, neighbors, and family gathered for a house blessing by the Rev. Charlie Holt. The Sunday school class stocked the pantry and presented Maria and the older children with signed Bibles. Don gave Maria a quilt that was made by Lynn’s late mother, so that on those nights when she gets cold and gets scared, she will know they are all there for her and that God is watching over her.
Maria and family are now attending church at St. John the Divine. The older children are attending youth Sunday school and Maria is considering having her younger children baptized here. "The hand of God was truly in this," says Meg. “This has been a huge team effort,” Bob acknowledges. “Through it all, a family is having their lives changed as we all help be the hands and feet of Christ!”
$1000 Visa gift cards (GO grants) were distributed to SJD Life Groups and other individuals and groups by the GO ministry to help with Harvey relief. A new Life Group study begins the week of March 10 and goes through Lent. Learn more and sign up here.