Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, life’s been busy around Ferncliff!
In March, we travelled to Baton Rouge to help residents rebuild from the major floods last August. We worked with Rebuild Together Baton Rouge to patch drywall, hang doors, and add baseboards to three different houses. Many of the homeowners we worked with have been living in a shelter at home situation, which means temporary bathrooms and sinks and not much else. People have been living seven months without an actual bathroom or kitchen, while the rest of their house sits in various states of repair and many homeowners expressed that they were beginning to lose hope that they would ever get assistance.
Rebuild Together Baton Rouge attempts to change that by focusing on one neighborhood at a time. It was amazing to see the community pull together and support one another. As the houses got a little bit closer to being completed, the people were able to begin rebuilding their lives. I love the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) tagline: Out of Chaos, Hope. Because hope is exactly what storm-torn communities need after the news casters have left and the cameras are gone. Beyond painting trim or installing baseboards, we strive to let people know that they haven’t been forgotten.
As we were returning from Baton Rouge, a storm swept through Ferncliff and damaged most of our farm buildings and low ropes course. We had about 30 trees that fell, luckily none of them hit our permanent buildings. After a few weeks of hard work by Chris, our maintenance guys, and several volunteers, the farm is mostly repaired and looks loads better!
This spring we also added some new animals to the farm. In addition to the piglets (dubbed Lucy and Ethel), we now have 5 ducklings and 12 chickens! They’re quite cute and growing up so fast. I think Howie (our older duck) is happy to have new feathered friends to play with. Ashley has also been hanging bat boxes around Ferncliff to encourage our favorite flying mammals to make a home nearby and hopefully decrease our mosquito population. We’ve also seen a couple adorable baby fawns cruising through camp and look forward to watching them grow up! But my favorite new addition to the wildlife around camp is the goose family living on our pond. We’ve named the gosling Ryan and the father Goose Springsteen.
In April, I presented at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance annual meeting in Atlanta. I got to meet the National Response Team, a fantastic group of Presbyterians who donate their time to deploy and respond to disasters throughout the USA and beyond. During the conference I had the opportunity to attend sessions on FEMA, human caused disasters, racism and privilege, suicide, and many more! It was great to see the church discussing and working on difficult issues that often get overlooked.
Last week we sent a shipment of cleanup buckets to southern Missouri to help with the recent flooding. Since it looks like the flooding in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas will not get a federal disaster declaration from FEMA, assistance tends to fall to the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or VOADs. Organizations like American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and many religious organizations (like PDA and Church World Service) are instrumental in helping people recover to their new normal.
This week we’ve been ramping up for summer camp with the arrival of our leadership staff. I spent the first part of the week in lifeguard and CPR training. We’ve also been able to collaborate with some of the unit coordinators on themed camps and are looking forward to welcoming our first campers in a couple of weeks!