Retiree volunteers from southeastern Idaho express their love with nail guns, tile, and sheetrock. As volunteers with the nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, members of Hope Community Church in Paul helped rebuild homes in Texas after Hurricane Harvey ravished the region in 2017.
“The damage was so extensive, it will take about two years to repair and rebuild homes,” said volunteer Tracy Haskin of Heyburn.
In February, she was among 12 volunteers who volunteered for a week in Rockport, Texas, 190 miles southwest of Houston on the Gulf Coast. After volunteering in Houston last year, Haskin and other church members were so gratified, they decided to do it again.
“Samaritan’s Purse is awesome and organizes volunteers efficiently,” Haskin said. “They stay for the long-term, until the work is done.”
The non-denominational, nonprofit evangelical Christian organization provides spiritual and physical aid to victims of natural disaster, war, and poverty worldwide. Volunteers are provided with food and lodging and only pay their transportation to a worksite.
Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, encourages volunteers to help people like the Samaritan did in the Bible. Relying on private donations to pay for materials and feeding volunteers, Samaritan’s Purse crews repair or replace houses without charging the homeowner.
Haskin and others were relieved no construction experience was required. Supervisors teach volunteers to use nail guns, several types of saws, and other tools needed to get the job done.
“The only requirement is that you’re in good health and are a follower of Jesus Christ,” said Haskin, 57, who helped perfatape a home with her husband, Mike, 59.
“Whatever assignment you were given, you learned fast,” said Pam Trost.
Trost and her husband, Ken, wondered if they were physically fit enough to lay tile and work on their hands and knees for a week. “I’m 69, and Ken is 73, and, by the grace of God, we helped tile a four-bedroom, two bathroom house,” Trost said, grinning.
Haskin said volunteering with Samaritan’s Purse “is such a step of faith for our small congregation of about 50. During our trip last year, the average age was around 63, and many endured illness while there, but they didn’t let it slow them down.”
At Trost’s worksite, the homeowner, George, inspired them. After Harvey hit, water lapped halfway up his living room windows as he waded knee-deep in a flood.
“Despite what happened to him and his family, he was filled with God’s love and optimism” Trost said.
At disaster sites, Haskin said the volunteers come from diverse careers and range in age from teens to retirees. “Whatever our backgrounds, we’re all there because we want to follow Jesus’ example and be his hands and feet in our world.” ISI