Halfway through the summer after Hurricane Sandy rattled the East Coast, most boardwalks have been repaired, houses repainted, and beaches bustle with business.
Most of the damage may appear to be repaired, but Lisa Park, volunteer manager with A Future with Hope, a United Methodists of Greater New Jersey affiliated nonprofit dedicated to Hurricane Sandy relief said that their organization has only "scratched the surface" in terms of providing aid.
"The thing that surprises me is how many New Jerseyans don't realize the amount of work that needs to be done," Park said from the organization's headquarters in Ocean Township, Monmouth County. "We started very, very early, while other long-term recovery groups didn't start until this year."
Throughout the summer, A Future with Hope volunteers are stationed typically for one week at a time in a certain town to work on specific Sandy-relief related projects.
Thanks to the United Methodist Church of Somers Point, A Future with Hope volunteers have one more place to stay.
"A Future with Hope is part of our program and we heard they were doing major work in the area this year, and looking for additional places for their volunteers to stay," host site coordinator and Somers Point resident Heidi Hibbs said. "We said, 'Wait a minute, we have a church that has a lot of room and a lot of space, why don't we do this?'"
Beginning in the middle of spring, the United Methodist Church of Somers Point became the place where volunteers would sleep, cook, eat and socialize. Church members cook two meals a week for the volunteers.
Hibbs said that so far, a Future with Hope has completed about 50 houses in the area that needed work after being damaged in the hurricane.
"Ocean County was hit hard, and it was the most difficult area to get up and running for multiple reasons," Park said. "We did a tremendous amount of work in Atlantic City. … Currently we've also partnered with Cape May County in Cape May, Wildwood, and Ocean City areas."
Hibbs said it's extremely rewarding to be able to offer a home-away-from-home to these volunteers as they help the shore communities continue to rebuild.
"The youth that has come through has been so polite and just really a nice group of young people," Hibbs said. "(Two weeks) ago there were 130 youths sleeping in our church, it was so hard to believe.
A Future with Hope aid is offered to people who have exhausted all of their resources in order to rebuild. Find out more about A Future with Hope at afuturewithhope.org.
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