Memorial and the greater Chattanooga community have benefited from the gentle, compassionate guidance of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth for more than 50 years. Over the years, several Memorial employees have served as Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Associates. SCN Associates are lay people who make a commitment to make a real difference in the world. They are men and women of all faiths and backgrounds.

Eight Memorial employees who also serve as Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Associates Lay Mission Volunteers and others are helping victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans this week.

We began this second day of our mission with morning prayer and devotion in the beautiful chapel of the Charity House on Apricot Street. We prayed and remembered Saint Louise deMarillac; a Saint who was very practical and realistic; co-founder of the Daughters of Charity — a community of women religious dedicated to serve the poor. We focused on our purpose here and set out to further this mission. From her quote, we were reminded by Saint Louise to “Teach me to show great gentleness toward all and to imitate your goodness in welcoming all.”

We continue to pray for those hurting from the devastation from the storms in our area and others who are suffering.

Brown bag lunches packed, we head out in 3 vehicles. Today is cool and windy; temperatures are in the 60’s; much different than yesterday!

We have so much work to get done in our short time remaining here, so today we divided up into ‘crews’ to be stationed at our two work sites; the home of Mr. Frank in the 7th Ward and the home of Pastor Dylan in 9th Ward.

As we headed out, we all made a caravan to Lowe’s to get some plants for Mr. Frank’s front yard. While gathering up supplies, we encountered the sweet sound of a chirp chirp. We found a small bird under one of the flatbed carts — he appeared to have tape on his beak. Jerry picked up the bird and then realized he had swallowed the tape. Steve and Jerry, with Cindy’s oversight, managed to free the tape from our new feathered friend. We left him in stable condition and hoped he would be able to find his family soon.

Our 7th Ward crew consisted of Steve, Martha, Cindy and Karen. The front of Mr. Frank’s home consists of two patches of black dirt, surrounded by concrete from the sidewalk, his porch and his driveway. He is not able to mow grass anymore so he has had the areas sprayed with weed killer — brown dried strings of what used to be grass remained. We cleared these areas picking up broken glass, nails, coins and other remnants of the history of that spot. The soil is rich — like the history that we were learning there. It was important to choose low maintenance perennial plants that can withstand hot dry weather so he can enjoy the yard without any maintenance — we found 4 unique varieties of flowering plants and shrubs to plant for him. River rock as ground cover adds a nice touch and makes the garden ‘pop’ with a newfound glow. Like our first day, Mr. Frank’s neighbors made it a point to come out and see what we were up to — both admiring the pretty view they will have from their homes and thanking us for helping Mr. Frank and their neighborhood. Mr. Frank peeked out of his door, smiled so all his teeth showed and said “I am so blessed! Now it looks like somebody lives here.”

As Mr. Frank’s home and yard was being revitalized, it seemed like he was also. While we were working in the garden, Mr. Frank’s son came by — he ran up to us and thanked us for helping his dad. Next we sanded the beautiful wrought iron railings that lead to Mr. Frank’s front door. We came up with a creative way to use black Rust-O-Leum spray paint on a windy day. We had time to chat with Mr. Frank and learn about his life and career, including the prejudice he has experienced over the years. We left there with many offers of food, shrimp boil, and invitations to return. We will be back on our last day, to paint his front porch.

Our 9th Ward crew is Sister Celine, Sister Luke, Betsy, Lisa, Deb, Jerry, Jackie and Pam. Pastor Dylan met us at his home site and is very surprised with what we have accomplished there. He has had to restock insulation material two times — this group has a system down to near perfection for hanging insulation! And we still need a little bit more to complete this project tomorrow. Pastor Dylan has reborn energy and is overwhelmingly grateful for the work that we have done in two days. Pastor Dylan hired a young couple from Honduras to help with the hanging of drywall; since they knew no English, our faithful interpreter Betsy was called upon to communicate with these hardworking, dedicated folks. It was amazing to see how everyone worked smoothly together, without barriers.

We had time to spend with our leader and mission trip organizer, Sister Luke. She’s very interested in our SCNA Faith Group, how we started together and our backgrounds.

Today we were able to ‘be in the moment’ with communication and listening for our thoughts of focus for today. Like Saint Louise, we were welcomed and we welcomed.

After a delicious meal downtown, we are resting, getting ready for our final work day tomorrow.

New Orleans SCNA Volunteer Trip – May 2011

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