In just two weeks...
As I write, our Mercy Chefs team on the Florida Panhandle is transitioning to the next major phase of our redeployment to help this community recover from the devastating Category Five hurricane last fall.
Beginning in just two weeks, our team will move from our summer "Beacon Of Hope" efforts to a special outreach to provide meals and support to the most at-risk kids in this community. As I've noted, an estimated 5,000 children were suddenly left homeless as a result of Hurricane Michael. Many are still without a permanent place to sleep. As these kids return to school, we've been asked to partner with the school district to ensure these kids who represent the most vulnerable in this community have reliable, hot, nutritious meals.
We are also working on educational programs while we continue to support work team still assisting with reconstruction efforts.
This story puzzled me, and broke my heart
I was puzzled.... Why did this young boy want a ladder on the outside of his house? --Gary
As you know, last week in Panama City, Mercy Chefs was privileged to serve 4,600 people at a special Back-To-School event for which we had only planned to serve 3,000. But God added the increase to your generosity and we were able to feed every single person, with some left over!
Each time I am in Panama City, I hear story after story of how Hurricane Michael has left a profound impact on this community and the psyche of the people here. The stories that pull at my heart the most come from the children, many of whom are homeless due to the storm and are still struggling with the reality of what happened.
For example, a young boy came to our "Beacon Of Hope" center with his family for a meal. Since our staff also provides activities for the children, this boy went over to our coloring station where I was standing. First he drew a house. Then, he added a ladder on the outside of the house. I was puzzled, so I asked him why he added the ladder. The boy's reply broke my heart:Read more
How 20 minutes made a huge difference
I’m sure you’re busy. So, I will be quick. I just want to share a brief story with you from our summer project “Beacon of Hope” down in Panama City, Florida …
Last week, a young family of five came to our center for dinner. The young mom looked tired as she walked in with her two daughters while holding her little baby. Hannah, one of our team members, could see the fatigue on her face, so she offered to hold the infant. After a few minutes, the baby was sound asleep in Hannah’s arms, while the young girls began coloring at our craft table.Read more
Sobering reality here
I just saw MORE EVIDENCE that Hurricane Michael -- the second worst hurricane ever to hit the mainland U.S. -- has been all-but forgotten. A new poll conducted of Florida residents "would do nothing" to help their fellow Floridians with relief, and 75% say they will not donate funds to help.
+ + Sobering reality...
This despite the fact that the need here is immense. There is still a reported 72 MILLION TONS of debris, creating a massive health, fire and safety hazard. And the kids are suffering the most.Read more
"it rains in my home."
I want to share one of many "God moments" with you that happened recently in Panama City, a city still recovering from Hurricane Michael.
Our first night at Mercy Chefs' Beacon of Hope center in Panama City, a little boy of 8 or 9 years old, Jakar, came for a meal by himself. We told him that he needed a parent to come fill out his paperwork. He looked at me with a blank stare and said, "I can't bring anyone." Something about this young boy shook me to my core. He didn't have anyone. He was hungry. He had been left on his own, for whatever reason, and needed my help. We served him a hot, chef crafted, nutritious meal.Read more
WHOLE HOUSES pushed to street?
Please share this with your friends. We must get the word out on the ongoing crisis on the Florida Panhandle! -- Gary
On Monday, the city of Lynn Haven (which neighbors Panama City to the north) made this post on its official Facebook page:
"Now is the time to put out your debris. As a reminder whole houses pushed to the curb will not be picked up.
Please separate debris on the right of way accordingly, please refrain from putting any debris in the roadway or ditches. Thank you!"
It's almost unimaginable that, six months after the hurricane hit, city officials are still sending a "reminder" that "whole houses pushed to the curb" would not be picked up by the debris removal team! This demonstrates the level of the crisis going on right now in Panama City and surrounding communities.Read more