Local News

For Cary group, Sandy relief efforts are more than just helping

Posted November 14, 2012

— Some of the towns hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy more than two weeks ago were in central New Jersey – towns like Toms River.

It's there that the home of 80-year-old mother Ann Vett was flooded in the storm – and it's one of many places volunteers with the Cary-based North Carolina Baptist Men are helping residents slowly but surely rebuild, not only their homes but their lives.

At Vett's house, where she's lived for 35 years, volunteers from World Overcomers Christian Church and First Baptist Church of Cary are gutting it so that crews can come in and fix the damage that Sandy caused.

"They just do it," Vett's daughter, Lee Spilner, said. "They ask if you need help, and they help you."

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The group of approximately 200 volunteers has set up a mini-city in Toms River – as well as the New Jersey township of Piscataway, The Meadowlands and Atlantic City – with everything they need to help others, including food, fuel, water and even a laundry facility. In addition to helping with damaged homes, it has provided more than 250,000 meals to hurricane victims throughout New Jersey and New York.

Volunteers, like Winslow Thornton, can relate.

His mother's house – the New Orleans home he grew up in – was destroyed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He helped clean up and rebuild her home.

"I understand the loss," Thornton, of Cary, said. "So, I wanted to come up and do what we can to lift their spirits. It's a monumental effort."

For Cary group, Sandy relief efforts are more than just helping For Cary group, Sandy relief efforts are more than just helping

Whether they're feeding, cleaning out, or consoling, the volunteers say that they can't help but be moved by what they're seeing.

Jimmy Lawrence, a relief manager from Rockingham County who is helping oversee the recovery in Toms River, likens the devastation to that on the Gulf Coast – "New Jersey's Katrina."

"We're dealing with people that are going through, probably, the worst time in their lives, and we need to minister to them," Lawrence said. "That's the only way I know how to put it – to be there for them, cry with them, laugh with them, talk to them. Whatever it takes, that's why we're here."

For Lawrence, the work is more than just volunteering. He says it's a calling.

"I think God is involved in this. I know he's involved in this, and I know that I've got to do this," Lawrence said. "We're putting feet on God's love."

And the love is not lost on those who receive it.

"I hope someday we can pay it forward to someone else," Spilner said. "If I keep talking, I'm going to cry. That's how much I feel for these people that are helping everyone. Not just us – everyone."

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  • lasm Nov 15, 2012

    Grand Union: "Curiously though I can't find records of their accounts or the compensation taken by their leaders on-line. One should be very wary about giving anything to any organization that does not make their records public."

    Again, the NC Baptist Men and the churches mentioned are just that......a MINISTRY, not an organization; and their mission is Christ-given out of their love for Him and all peoples. Note the words "to help others, including food, fuel, water and even a laundry facility. In addition to helping with damaged homes, it has provided more than 250,000 meals to hurricane victims throughout New Jersey and New York." Maybe you also overlooked the words "volunteer" and "volunteers". I encourage you to read the article again, slowly, so as to get the message; as the message is not "money", "compensation", "payment", etc.

  • Grand Union Nov 15, 2012

    "Anyone wishing to help those in the Northeast affected by Sandy can rest assured that the NC Baptist Men apply 100% of all donations to helping others. They are all volunteers and this organization is absolutely trustworthy with any funds you send them. I hope you will give today. Their website is secure."

    Curiously though I can't find records of their accounts or the compensation taken by their leaders on-line. One should be very wary about giving anything to any organization that does not make their records public.

  • Grand Union Nov 15, 2012

    "Wouldn't it be nice if we sent all of the yankees in Cary back to NJ?"

    Wouldn't it be nice to send all the "old south" folks in NC to Mississippi?

  • WhysoMad Nov 15, 2012

    Wouldn't it be nice if we sent all of the yankees in Cary back to NJ? Marty King

    You have some serious issues. This is an article about people helping people and somehow you find something negative in it. Go get some help.

  • Marty King Nov 15, 2012

    Wouldn't it be nice if we sent all of the yankees in Cary back to NJ?

  • Made In USA Nov 14, 2012

    Anyone wishing to help those in the Northeast affected by Sandy can rest assured that the NC Baptist Men apply 100% of all donations to helping others. They are all volunteers and this organization is absolutely trustworthy with any funds you send them. I hope you will give today. Their website is secure.