The week after Christmas has been no holiday for a group of church-based volunteers in Chesterfield. Instead of taking time off, they headed south to join hurricane recovery efforts.
170 Service International volunteers returned Friday night from a 5-day mission trip to the hurricane-ravaged gulf coast. Volunteer Sean Puleo talked about their work. "We lifted hundreds of sheets of drywall. We had to lift heavy objects out of buildings that were destroyed."
Volunteer Marcella Doucet says the conditions were at best uncomfortable. "It was pretty gross. It smelled like the refrigerators were still in there. It was pretty nasty."
Founded in 1985, Service International is connected to St. Louis Family Church. Pastor Jeff Perry says the organization really took-off after the flood of '93. They have a two-fold mission- to help people and to honor God.
The volunteers reflected on what they will remember most. Marcella Doucet said, "The looks on all the people's faces that we helped. And also all the friends that I've met now."
Volunteer Luke Rolph echoed that feeling. "In giving these people hope, God's got good things in store for people who do his work, you know?"
Service international volunteers are planning many more trips to help residents along the gulf coast. They have also been to Sri Lanka for tsunami relief, and to kosovo to help those affected by war.