Last fall, Hurricane Florence slowly made its way up the east coast. Weeks after the skies cleared and the television coverage of the storm had passed, residents of the Bucksport area just outside of Conway, SC were still waiting for water to recede in order to investigate the damage in the hopes of reclaiming their homes. We waited with them, ready to do our part in lending a hand.
Hubert, 57, and his mother Ida Bell had homes on the same small piece of land. Ida Bell and her daughter Tina found refuge with friends, while Hubert, who suffers from aphasia (he understands everything but is unable to speak more than a few words due to a brain injury) was splitting time between friends and living in his vehicle. The stress of the flooding caused Ida Bell to be hospitalized and unable to contribute in the task of finding help. Luckily, a neighbor brought Hubert to us and did her best to assist in translation. Hubert asked for help with his mother’s home so that she could return to her own space, and did his best to express the frustration of not being able to get the assistance that they needed. Very little was salvageable in either house, but Hubert was exceptionally grateful for our assistance when no one else would take the time to hear him out.
Beyond the physical response of diving in and helping with the overwhelming dirty work, we are given the chance to build relationships and hear each person’s story. We can do that best when we take a pause in the chaos of a response to give each person our full attention and the opportunity to be heard.
This is what your donations make possible. As one of our co-founders Gene Borochoff has often explained, while so much of our work is seen in the physical manifestation of doing Tikkun Olam – repairing the world, “a very import part of [our work] is taking the time to sit and listen to our clients.” It’s creating those human connections, and building community to foster recovery in the wake of the unimaginable.