MANDEVILLE - Tools of many shapes and sizes were at work inside of a house on Orleans Street Friday. A dozen volunteers, both local and from as far as Maine, were finishing up their efforts to gut the structure, from what it looked like last month, after fire ripped through it.
The house had been where the Reimonenqs, a family of 13, called home for seven years, and they're grateful for the volunteers helping to bring them back home.
"We still have a long way to go, but it gives us the hope that tomorrow is gonna be brighter," said Senorita Reimonenq.
Dale Kimball, with the Epworth Project, said, "We actually repaired this house after Hurricane Isaac. A tree fell on the roof and smashed the roof. So we already had a relationship with the family so when this happened, it was natural for us to come back."
The Epworth Project is based out of Slidell and brings in more than 2,000 volunteers for 150 jobs a year. These helpers from a church and school near Augusta have been part of the effort for nine years. The volunteers say when they first came to the house, the darkness and the damage was very overwhelming. But now, after two days of work and meeting with the Reimonenq family, they feel like all that work has been worth it.
Tamara Stockwell said, "The kids were running around and the life inside the house, you could feel it showing up again and feel like they're ready to have their home back."
The family, who says they have been more than blessed by donations of clothes, food and furniture, and now this rebuilding, can't thank the community enough.
"The generosity of the community, it actually outweighs the suffering so it makes us have hope that everything is going to be okay," said Shelby Reimonenq.
If you’d like to help the Epworth Project with the Reimonenq’s rebuilding or any of their rebuilding projects, visit their website www.epworthproject.com or call 985-781-7990. Two more benefits are being held for the family next month. The first is in Mandeville on April 4, starting at 11 a.m. at the Morning Star Fellowship Hall. That’s located at 620 Lamarque St. The second is set for April 5, also at 11 a.m., at the Lacombe Rec Center. That’s located at 6110 N. 12th Street in Lacombe. Both are chicken and fish plate dinners for $8 a piece.