Men's Breakfast Report, March 2009

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, March 14 with Bernard Scrogin from Lutheran Disaster Relief.  Bernard had been pastor of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Freeport and went to work for Lutheran Social Services a few years ago. He is now stationed in Freeport with Lutheran Disaster Relief.  He is living at the Lutheran parsonage where he also conducts some of the church’s services.

 His job here is to coordinate relief efforts for people who have fallen through the cracks in the system.  For example, people who were helped during a previous hurricane by FEMA are not eligible for help with Ike damage unless they have insurance.  However, many of these people can not afford insurance.  Bernard said that about a third of the people over 65 in the county have no income other than social security.  This means that when faced with food, medical and insurance bills, something has to give and it is usually insurance. 

One case of this type was discussed and is being helped by the local church’s disaster relief committee and the Carpenter’s Hands, a group based in the First Methodist Church of Lake Jackson, that helps with construction and repair of housing for people in need.  Many of its members are from other churches. 

In our discussion we noted that most of the volunteers for most of these groups and of the churches were over fifty and that there were few younger people in the twenty-five to fifty age group coming in to replace them.  This is not a matter of demographics with black churches and groups replacing the older white groups since members of the group from black churches say they are having the same problem.  It was also found that outreach efforts did not have much effect; Abel Garcia’s bottled water outreach recruited one family.  What was seen to have an effect was a one-on-one recruitment by church members.  Ondre Waddy has been able to get a few members because he is a coach and brings in some youth who bring in their parents. 

Another topic discussed is the unpreparedness of young volunteers, especially college students.  Few of them have any idea about how to use tools of any kind.  This means that about one experienced adult is required for every five young volunteers, which goes back to the lack of middl-aged active members.  One church that was planning to send volunteers to help with Katrina reconstruction solved this because it had a member with a sheetrock business.  The church sent all its volunteers to help him install sheetrock at a house he was working on, for free, so by the time they left for their mission they were experienced. 

This also brought up the topic of lack of vocational training in the high schools.  It was suggested that everyone should get some minimal vocational training and that many who are not interested in college academics should get extensive training so they can get a job when they leave high school. 

As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next breakfast will be April 11 with Dan Tarver of the Freeport Economic Development Commission as the featured guest.  All men are invited.