Last weekend Vital did it again: we returned to Rockport, Texas for another weekend of service. And this time we came with crowbars and sledgehammers in hand, ready to demolish a home that had been condemned by the city. When we arrived at Nicole and her young family’s home, they were grateful and eager to begin this work. They had been living in a motel since the hurricane and their new temporary home was sitting in their driveway ready for them to move in, but Rockport would not turn on the water or electricity until their old one was torn down. Nicole’s excitement about this day made its way to social media and before long people in the community were showing up to help as well! Family, friends, and random strangers (us) showed up to help tear down their home, and it was humbling to work alongside their family for the day.
As we drove home Saturday afternoon, I reflected on our experience and realized the true unsung heroes of the ongoing relief effort are the Point of Contacts (P.O.C.) in these small communities. These men and women meet out-of- town groups, know who needs help, tell the stories of those the group will help, and insure that everyone has what they need to make the project happen.
I first met our P.O.C., Eileen, through email and then we spoke over the phone before our group drove south. She wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into. On Saturday morning she met us, with the tools we needed ready to load up. She shared Nicole’s story with our team including why it was so important that this task get accomplished, and then we followed Eileen over to Nicole’s home. She checked in on us throughout the day, even going to ACE Hardware and buying a wheelbarrow so that we could get all the debris out to the street. When it came time for lunch, she suggested a friend’s restaurant and made us reservations then drove ahead of us guiding our group the entire way there. As we drove towards the restaurant we passed the iconic storage
buildings that made national news with hundreds of boats dangling from them in the wake of the storm. As I sat next to Eileen, she told us that she and her husband lost their boat in those buildings. It was a sobering realization that on some level everyone in this small community was affected in one way or another. At the end of our day Eileen met us back at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Rockport with a cheerful smile and a grateful heart that we came to serve in her community.
Through all of this, it was something she said at the beginning of the day that struck me about Eileen. As we stood in the Parish Hall of St. Peter’s she said, “I am new to this. I just stepped up the other week and said that I would be the Point of Contact.” I hope one day we can all say, “I am new to this; I just stepped up.” I can tell you that Eileen is great at her job. She knows the people in the community, understands the importance of sharing their stories, and is willing to share her own story as many times as it takes to get this small community back on its feet again.
If you are wondering if the Coastal Bend Region still needs help, it does. And if you are wondering if you are equipped to help, you are. It is okay to be new to this. Just step up; God will sort out the rest.
Written by Allie Melancon