By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Since the days of their founding, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have responded to crises with hope and compassion.
Following the devastating floods that residents of the Ohio River Valley experienced earlier this year, the SCN Disaster Relief Team converged on West Point, Ky., to lend a hand and an ear.
“We are there to be a presence, to help rebuild and to help people reclaim their lives,” said Sister Luke Boiarski, the sisters’ director of volunteers.
West Point is located 25 miles south of Louisville in Hardin County, just north of Ft. Knox. The town of about 1,000 was hit particularly hard by record rainfall in late February. The low-lying community was flooded by the Salt River on one side and the Ohio River on the other.
While the sisters continue to lead in times of crisis, they have expanded their ability to help by forming volunteer relief teams. Mark Walther, an SCN volunteer, spent March 27 installing new drywall and sanding and prepping walls to be painted at a home in West Point.
“We’re here because we can help and give back. For me, I’m so thankful for my family and faith community. I’m just trying to give back,” said Walther, a parishioner of St. John Chrysostom Church in Eminence, Ky.
Walther and about a dozen other volunteers spent several days in the small river community working on a few residential homes. Most of the town’s homes were flooded by several feet of water, leaving severe water damage and unhealthy living conditions.
Many of the home owners, Sister Boiarski said, do not have flood insurance and have no where else to turn.
“They’ve lost everything: all their possessions, vehicles, everything,” she said.
Walther, who has volunteered with the SCN team for five years, said he receives so much more than he gives. He said it’s “shaped” him.
“When we go into these kind of situations where people have lost everything, we’re not just helping put their home back together, we’re helping them put themselves back together,” he said.
Sometimes, he said, just being present is enough.
“The homeowners will come up to you. Slowly, they will open up and they might talk 20, 30 minutes and share their experience. All you have to do is listen and be there for them,” he said.
The SCN Disaster Relief Team has ministered in numerous states in the wake of natural disasters, including: Mississippi, New Orleans, Texas, Ohio and West Virginia.
Sister Boiarski said she continues to respond to the need because of the bonds that are forged with those in need.
“The force of love is what drives me to continue. We give but we get so much more than we give,” she said.
The disaster relief team is funded through donations. To contribute to the relief efforts, visit scnfamily.org. To inquire about volunteering, visit scnfamily.org/volunteer or contact Sister Boiarski at 502-348-1581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.