Here is a mission opportunity right in your own backyard!

Many families in Philadelphia’s Eastwick neighborhood are still struggling to complete repairs to damage from severe flooding in last year’s Tropical Storm Isaias.

The United Church of Christ is inviting mission teams to bring a helping hand and hope to 60 families like these:

  • The elderly couple rescued from their home just in time as water rose around their necks. Physically unable to climb their stairs to safety, they sat holding hands as they awaited their fate.
  • The elementary schooler who now panics every time it rains, asking his mom, “Will that man come with his boat to get us again? I’m scared, mommy.”
  • The Katrina survivor who relocated to Pennsylvania and felt safe until flooding there forced a harrowing evacuation through a second-floor window.

Teams of 2 to 5 volunteers are welcome for one to five days at a time. Commute in, or stay overnight for free at Salt and Light Church, Philadelphia.

UCC Pennsylvania Southeast Conference Disaster Coordinator the Rev. Karl Jones is among leaders of the recovery effort. UCC Disaster Ministries has deployed Partner in Service Judith Moore as volunteer coordinator.

Shenkel UCC in Pottstown, Pa., fielded a five-member work team to Eastwick July 17. They’re already planning a return mission trip.

The team included Shenkel UCC’s pastor, the Rev. Suzanne Spaulding.

“I like to help people,” she said. “I like to connect with the homeowner and hear their story, what happened and how they met the challenges, and what they’re hoping for from the volunteers.”

At a work site, she added, there’s always something everyone can do, regardless of skill level.

The Shenkel team worked on restoring the basement of the home of an older man rearing two grandchildren. He has lived in the house for 41 years.

“He had gutted the basement before we arrived,” said team leader Gary McDermit. “A new hot water heater, HVAC system and washer/dryer had been installed. The homeowner just needed a hand to complete the work.”

The Shenkel team framed up the outside walls. Then, its workday completed, it left the next step – insulation and drywall – to the next work team, Lutherans from Lancaster, Pa.

“I hope that more churches in the area will send groups,” Spaulding said. “There is something satisfying to help people in our own backyard. And with COVID it is nice to not have to travel a long way.”

Eastwick is minutes from major highways and the Philadelphia International Airport and well-served by public transportation. It borders the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and boasts many historical sites. For example, Betsy Ross is buried there, and singer-songwriter Patti LaBelle grew up there.

Eastwick community leader Carolyn Moseley said it is a close-knit community where neighbors keep an eye out for each other. “If my car doesn’t move for two days, someone will call to ask, ‘Are you ok?’”

Predominantly African American and middle class, Eastwick is “secure and safe, accessible to the city,” Moseley said. “I don’t see myself leaving.”

Interested in volunteering? Contact: Judy Moore, Volunteer Coordinator 802-299-8290; IsaiasRecoveryVolunteers@gmail.com

To learn more about other ways to get involved or to make a gift in support,

contact Lesli Remaly, UCC Minister for Disaster Response and Recovery: remalyl@ucc.org