DURHAM, N.C.–The North Carolina Baptists On Mission is one of many faith-based and nonprofit organizations participating in the cleanup and rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew devastated the 50 central and eastern counties. What sets this group apart is that the Baptists’ plan to repair or rebuild at least 1,000 hurricane-damaged homes within two years.
The mission relies solely on volunteers to complete the work. So far, 17 homes have been repaired or rebuilt.
Since October, when the hurricane struck North Carolina, Baptist volunteers have put in 180,000 hours of work. Initially, volunteer teams responded to the survivor needs with six mobile kitchens: three from North Carolina, one each from Missouri, Virginia, and Arkansas. At the height of cleanup efforts, they staffed 13 volunteer recovery sites.
Gaylon Moss, district relief coordinator for the Mission headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, said even more volunteers will offer their services over the summer. They generally work between eight and nine hours per day, depending on the tasks.
Founded in 1984, North Carolina Baptists on Mission has worked hundreds of disasters in North Carolina and elsewhere alongside FEMA, the state and local governments. This mission includes feeding survivors, cleaning up and clearing debris, repairing and when necessary rebuilding homes. Volunteers range in age from 18 to senior citizens.
Moss, who believes the organization will meet its goal, is responsible for five North Carolina counties – Robeson, Wayne, Sampson, Pender and Bertie. Volunteers receive free room and board in return for labor.
“We plan to open a volunteer center in Lumberton (Robeson County) in a former warehouse/business where those volunteers can stay,” he said. Usually, volunteers are provided sleeping quarters in area churches.
“We always need more volunteers,” Moss said. While some volunteers have specific skills, the organization looks for people who are patient, flexible and tenacious. They and the survivors they help need not be Baptist. Work can range from using power tools to hanging Sheetrock and cleaning up construction sites.
Each volunteer takes a two-day course before beginning work. Information about the course is at baptistsonmission.org/training.
The Mission has an urgent plea for workers posted on its website. Go to baptistsonmission.org for more information.