Mission trip to Jamaica, Queens – New York

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Our group of 26 volunteers including 5 teens arrived safely at the First Presbyterian Church, Jamaica Queens, NY.  Stay tuned below for our latest updates!


Monday, April 6, 2015


The day started with the whole group getting an introduction at the Friend’s of Rockaway warehouse. We then split up into 4 groups and headed to the individual houses in the Rockaways.


Mr. Rafferty’s House

Mr. Raffferty has been living in the same house for 75 years, first with his parents, then with his wife and children. We didn’t meet him, since he still works at the post office.  We were met by the Americorp leaders, Jeff, Alex, and Sirhan. They greeted us, gave a quick introduction and then put us to work. We spent the morning sanding and mudding. Lunch was a picnic on the porch. We had a treat after lunch when we were given a short tour of the memorials, starting with the memorial to 9/11 including the names of the local Rockaway citizens who were lost. We then walked to the Flight 587, a Delta flight that crashed shortly after 9/11 on Rockaway after leaving JFK heading to the Dominican Republic with 284 killed. Then back to the house for the afternoon work. Some of us continued with the sanding and mudding while others started putting bead board around the windows. We finished with the removal and demolition of a window to provide room for a new one.


We are off to watch the NCAA championship game.  Go ……..!!!!!!


-Abby Lindstrom and Dale Kitchin


Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Rincon Home

Mel Reid, Fletcher Tukes and Russ Madsen are working at the Rincon family home in Far Rockaway with Americorps supervisor Ilana, doing interior framing, sheet rocking, and door installation to restore a ground-floor basement-family area.  There are three generations in the home and they stayed during Superstorm Sandy, surviving on an upper floor.  They were without electricity for an extended period of time and the water didn’t recede for over 24 hours.  The entire lower floor of the home was flooded.  The team framed a bath, shower room and closet and installed new doors.  Then they installed sheet rock on the new partitions.
The GPC team attended the Tuesday night prayer service here at First Presbyterian Church Jamaica, a meditative time with lovely music and meaningful message about doubting like Thomas.
-Russ Madsen


Wednesday, April 8, 2015


The Oyebola House

A three-story townhome stands just a few blocks from the beach.  Mr. Oyebola, a native of Nigeria, lives on the 3rd floor and rents out the 2nd floor.  The PDA mission workers have been assigned to help prepare the 1st floor for renting as well.  As homeowners continue to recover from the trauma, the job loss, the property damage, and financial impact of Hurricane Sandy, any supplemental income, especially of a residual nature coming from one’s own assets, becomes critical to getting one’s life back together.


A team made up of Jerry Brown, Carol Howdyshell, Sabine Afodanyi, Norm Gordon, Mary Spencer, and Alicia Gordon, and now new GPC member Dave Flyte, are working hard on preparing the walls for painting,  sanding, spackling, sanding, spackling, and sanding again to get that perfectly smooth surface ready for the brush.


Our Americorps site coordinators, Sam and Miju, have provided warm, people-friendly coordination for us.  In addition, they have graciously provided training in whatever particular skill is needed to do the job.


One highlight occurred on Tuesday.  A group of special needs young adults joined us on one of their outings.  They sanded and spackled right alongside us with great glee.  We helped each other and had a great time.


We have five teenagers with us.  They took off work early today in order to make a side trip today into Manhattan.  A worthy cause.


All are safe, all are working hard, and all are representing our Lord well as we serve in His name.


-Norm Gordon


Thursday, April 9, 2015


Oyebola Home
This has been an awesome Spring Break so far! At the Oyebola house, a special needs group came (New Horizons) to help us. This was quite an experience, as I have never really worked closely with groups like them. I’m kind of disappointed in myself for thinking in the past that they were incapable of doing work like this. I quickly came to know that they were perfectly able. They seemed to brighten the mood in the house—lots of smiles, laughter and learning. It has been a pleasure to work with, shall I say, older folks. I’ve created bonds I never thought would happen and laughed like never before through this trip and I am forever grateful.
Alicia Gordon


When I heard about this mission trip from Mrs. Wasik, I was hesitant to say yes because I’ve never been to New York or any trips with the church but this feeling quickly changed. When we arrived to New York, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with Alicia, Carvel, Robert, and Elisee.  We’ve never had the chance to meet one another before this trip but it felt as if we had been long time friends. I also had the chance to work at the Oyebola home, this experience introduced me to the hard rock it takes into fixing a house. I was very fortunate to have had the chance to travel to a new place with members of our congregation because it allowed us to put our faiths into action.
Sabine Afodanyi


PS After devotions we were treated to a classical music concert featuring GPC’s own renowned pianist Alicia Gordon.


Friday, April 10, 2015


Hutchinson Home
On Monday, April 6, five eager beavers arrived the Mrs. Hutchinson’s house in the Rockaways.  Two of the cast of characters were experienced dry wall workers.  Three dipped mud for the first time.  They were met by the field supervisor for Friends of Rockaway, Temi, who lives in Queens but hails from Nigeria.  She wants to study in medical school to become a doctor. Temi revealed a passion for her work, sensitivity in communications, and skill in friendship development.   For part of the ice breaker process, she invited each person to tell of the first movie they remember seeing.  She asked which station the radio should be tuned.  Temi showed us the basics of smoothing over the cracks and corners at the joints of installed sheet rock.  Put the joint compound (“mud”) on one side of the trowel.  Apply to sheet rock.  Smooth out and remove excess.  Let dry.  Meanwhile sand the dry compound, with circular motions, constantly feeling the wall for smoothness.  Generally, three layers of mud are applied over a period of days allowing for drying and sanding and re-application.  Robert Newton, a newbie said, “if the mud doesn’t hit you in the face, you are doing it right.”  Elisee Doumassi, said that mudding is very messy and reminds him of making mud pies.   Carvel Graves, says that mudding is something he has not done before but that he learned a lot, yet he would not have chosen mudding and sanding as his first choice.  All three of the volunteer workers agreed that the experience was good learning and though not glamorous was a very important part of the process of house building.   Charlotte Spencer quietly plied her skills enhancing the Hutchinson house.  So did Edco Bailey and Cecilia Bailey of St. Mary Catholic Church of Rockville who have travelled on mission trips with us before.  Lastly, Alexandra Parker joined in the work on Thursday.  She had worked at other sites during the week.   It was wonderful to be instruments of God’s love for the family who has been trying for nearly two and a half years to recover from the devastation of the October 2012 super storm, Hurricane Sandy.
-Edco Bailey


I spent a portion of Wednesday at the Hutchinson home, a temporary trade so I could join the youth for a trip into Manhattan to shop around Times Square.  I found Temi and Mackensie were further awesome examples of the AmeriCorps/Friends of Rockaway/St. Bernard’s Project staff I’d met throughout the week – three homes and five staff members in total.  They were great at teaching their current specialty – drywall, but were looking forward to learning other aspects of enabling families to return home. Hearing about their personal plans after AmeriCorps was interesting, Medical School and (possibly) the Peace Corps.
Even with three days of training with mudding, taping, _____, and sanding, I made a rookie construction mistake – I didn’t wear safety glasses while working on something over my head. (Doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing – Robert :P) Dollop of mud in the eye….don’t do it.  However, I was able to speak to Mrs. Hutchinson while getting my eye drops, so maybe it happened for a reason.  She was extremely nice and soft spoken, with a grounded faith in God.  The flooding in her home has made conducting her florist business more difficult, but she credits God and the scripture painted on her house with keeping her family safe and providing them help to move forward.  Before Sandy, Mrs. Hutchinson stored much of her stock in the basement, she’ll be unable to do so in the future, but the basement will provide a place for her grandchildren to play once it’s completed.
Although I happily returned to my team Thursday, I had a good time working with Carvel, Robert, Elisee, Charlotte, Cecelia, and Edco.
Kudos to our cooks!   We have a faithful group of cooks who travel with us and cook up amazing meals for us to enjoy at breakfast and dinner.   Many thanks to Ella Bastine, Carol Bunch, Maxine Brown, Cecilia Bailey, and Linda Propst.