Vickroy: Volunteers help rehab home for tornado victims
DONNA VICKROY firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5982 July 6, 2012 6:40PM
Paul Kasten and others from Zion Lutheran Church in Tinley Park talk Thursday, July 5, 2012 about the recent mission trip they took to southern Illinois to help victims of a tornado that struck earlier this year. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Judy Fulton, Martha Reid, David Anders, Bill Eichhorn, John Chlapecka, Paul Kasten, Nancy Kasten, Jim Erwin, Reta Brudd, Arlie Thayer, Lori Vrba, Mike Vrba, Tabin Vrba, Tyler Vrba, Sadie Vrba, Stan Bumstead, Rich Klug, Joyce Larson, Carl Larson, Paula Kasten, Walt Willie, Don Schuette.
How to help
Zion Lutheran Church is at 17100 S. 69th Ave., Tinley Park; (708) 532-1600;
For more information on Giving Back Hope, visit lutheransonline.com/servlet/lo_ProcServ/dbpage=page&mode=
Updated: August 9, 2012 6:09AM
They had planned to go downstate to help the victims of a deadly tornado that leveled much of the town of Harrisburg in late February.
But when they learned that insurance claims already had taken care of much of the damage, the mission workers asked how else they might help.
“The church is all about being sent out into the world to help,” said Martha Reid, vicar at Zion Lutheran Church in Tinley Park.
They were told that a group of Harrisburg residents had bought a run-down house in a poor section of town for $1,000 from the city, hoping to fix it up and eventually donate it to someone left homeless by the vicious storm that killed seven.
“I’ll tell you, they paid $1,000 for that house — they overpaid,” David Anders said.
The house, likely built in the late 1920s or early 1930s, was in deplorable condition. It had no furnace, no plumbing.
“But it did have carpenter ants,” Jim Erwin said.
That prompted the workers to remove and replace some of the lumber.
“Structurally, it was not up to code,” Judy Fulton said.
In all, 22 members of Zion made the 51/2-hour drive south last month to the small town, hauling their own tools in a trailer.
There, they set up camp and got to work.
The rehab project was run by Giving Back Hope, a nonprofit Lutheran organization that coordinates teams of volunteers from across the country to help rebuild areas devastated by disasters.
During their stay, the Zion volunteers, all of whom hail from Tinley Park, tore down siding, dismantled a chimney, rebuilt doors and installed new electrical wiring.
Bill Eichhorn oversaw much of the carpentry work.
Reid said she learned a lot about how to replace siding. Three layers had to be removed before insulation and new siding could be installed.
No job was too small. Fulton even pulled poison ivy from the work area.
The group stayed at the Dorrisville Baptist Church, sleeping in classrooms and preparing their own dinners.
“The church is really neat,” Reid said. “Since the tornado, it had opened its doors to team after team of volunteers, giving them a place to stay, use of their kitchen and classrooms, to help the people recover.”
Fulton and Reta Brudd had kitchen detail. They would put in a half-day rehabbing and then head off to prepare a hot meal for the crew each evening.
Zion sponsors a mission trip every year. A silent auction dinner/fundraiser helps pay travel expenses for those who volunteer to donate time and talent. It also enables those who can’t make the trip a way to help.
“The mission is a way to pay back for all the blessings in my life,” Brudd said.
Erwin, who participated in his first mission, said, “It gave me a deeper appreciation for what I have, and a better understanding of how other people live.”
For Paul and Nancy Kasten, this year’s mission was one of many they’d participated in since Zion started sending volunteers to help build homes some eight or nine years ago.
They’ve worked with Casas For Cristo, building homes in Juarez, Mexico, until travel to that region became too dangerous. They also helped in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after the 2008 floods.
“We do this every year,” Nancy said.
Over the years, the Kastens have brought each of their three children along.
The house, now sporting fresh seafoam green-colored siding, new windows and new doors, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.
Upon completion, it will be presented to a single mom of three children.
“Each one of us has been given a gift — maybe we’re electricians or cooks or carpenters,” Fulton said. “Using that gift to help others is what we’re supposed to do.”
Eichhorn said, “It really does give you an appreciation for what you have.”
Plus, Arlie Thayer said, “It’s just fun.”