Seeing the truck full of books, pianos, computers, and blackboards that had to be hauled away due to rain and mold damage, and then walking through the empty classrooms, I didn’t know whether we’d be able to open the school in early September.
I rolled my eyes when my ever-optimistic colleague told me that it was probably part of God’s bigger plan. It’s the first time in recent years that I didn’t feel good about what we could offer our young people at UrbanPromise. We had some classrooms without books, the carpet ripped up, and paint scraped off the walls. This was not the first impression of school that we had hoped to give our kindergarteners.
The first call we made was the right one: Jim Dugan, co-owner of Safety Bus, is a youth pastor, a member of our long-standing partner Moorestown Presbyterian Church, and all about disaster relief efforts. Within 24 hours, Jim had recruited over 150 Moorestown athletes willing to give a day to help restore our school. Within 3 work days, the school had been repainted, and the floors are being repaired.
Several churches put out the call for help, and we now have library books sorted by grade. The Moorestown volunteers are setting up little libraries in the classrooms. Pastors and laypeople have dropped off checks daily to help underwrite the $30,000 we need to restore the school, half for water damage testing and mold abatement and half for supplies that were ruined.
Metro Carpet just donated 2,000 square feet of carpet. All Risk Property Damage Experts cut their fee significantly and brought a crew leader back from vacation to manage our job. Krispy Kreme gave doughnuts, and Mac the Iceman dropped off ice each morning. Coaches from Moorestown fixed our gutters, and a retired Camden policeman spent 12 hours a day, each day this week scraping floors. Wegmans gave food, and Safety Bus drivers donated their time and buses to drop off and pick up the student volunteers. Emily Brown, a junior at Moorestown, called out of work for the week so she could help Jim organize this effort.
I don’t know if our rain damage was part of God’s bigger plan, but I do know that God was hard at work this week. He was at work in a junior high school student who used her last week of the summer to help us; in a businessman who set aside his week to lead an effort to restore our school; and in churches and businesses that raised over $10,000 worth of supplies and money in just a couple of days.
And because so many people chipped in and did what they could, our children are going to walk into a new school today.