There’s some 37,000 Lutheran kids volunteering in the city of New Orleans this summer. I was surprised to discover approximately half of them working next door Saturday morning.
I think they were mostly from New Jersey.
Their project: gutting Craig’s house. Craig was our next door neighbor, but he’s now living in Texas. He never returned after Katrina, except to remove some of his possessions, most of which were destroyed by the floodwaters.
I talked to him on the phone a couple months ago, expressing my concern about the continuing deterioration of his property, especially with regard to how it was affecting us and the quality of life on the block.
Lo and behold, he agreed to donate his house to a worthy cause, if only I could find one. I asked around, and some folks I respect recommended the Preservation Resource Center’s Operation Comeback. They acquire homes, renovate them, and sell them to first-time home buyers.
I hadn’t mentioned any of this this publicly before because I didn’t want to jinx the deal. I knew Craig might have a hard time letting go of his place. After all, one gets attached to a building after living in it for a couple decades.
But apparently the deal went through. Way to go, Craig.
Which brings us back to those Lutherans.
I had never seen the inside of Craig’s house before, yet still it brought back memories — memories of cleaning out our own house back in ’05.
The space between our house and Craig’s was filled with weeds twelve feet high or higher, not to mention a variety of shrubs, trees and other plants. No lie — were able to look up at the weeds from our second story window.
These Lutheran volunteers made short work of it in a single morning.
I was amazed to see there was still so much furniture in the house.
I had thought most everything had been removed. This was some nice furniture once upon a time. It was kind of sad to see it sitting on the curb. I rescued an incense holder from the pile. But it surely made me happy to see some progress on this house. The restoration of this property could have a huge positive effect on this block.