In the difficult year following Hurricane Irma’s destruction of the Middle Keys, St. Gregory’s has been a beacon of love and support for our Middle Keys churches and the many families left homeless.
St. Gregory’s generously provided a travel trailer to St. Columba’s Church in Marathon for use as a home during the 9-month rebuilding period. It was one of 22 trailers that comprised a small community of hope, allowing many people to remain in their home town when thousands of homes were destroyed. Our trailer sheltered a family with four children, and then a second family with twin toddlers. Both families lived in their cars before moving in to St. Gregory’s trailer. Many thanks to the St. Gregory’s Youth Group, our ECW, Tim Brumfield and our Music Program, and to all of you who generously supported their Keys fundraisers which combined to cover the cost of that trailer.
Many thanks to you who volunteered and donated furnishings and household items for the rebuilding effort. Episcopal Charities trucks carried 18 truckloads of supplies over a 6-month period to help in the rebuilding and as a constant reassurance to these people that they were not alone.
St. Columba’s homeless shelter, Independence Cay, which houses many military veterans and others, was completely rebuilt solely from the use of gift cards provided by people across the diocese, including our own generous St. Gregory’s Altar Guild.
Many other angels joined us in this amazing effort. Their Thrift Shop which supports funding St. Columba’s after school program was rebuilt and restocked with help from the ECWs of South Palm Beach County and many others. Our sister Episcopal churches of SE Florida and all churches of many denominations from outside our area, Jazz Soloist Theresa Thomason, AA of West Boca Raton, Episcopal Relief and Development, American Van Lines, the Bishop’s Fund for Keys Relief, Bridge to Hope of Homestead, Broward RV, Episcopal Charities of SE Florida and many others have poured their hearts and resources into restoring the lives of the people of the Middle Keys. We are blessed to have worked alongside them all.
The good fight continues in the Middle Keys. St. Columba’s is starting refurbishment this week of an apartment building they’ve purchased, to restore a small portion of their community’s working class housing, much of which will not be rebuilt. Please continue to keep them in your prayers and do what you can to help. Their first Sunday sermon after the hurricane was “You Are Not Alone.” Thank you all for showing them that is true every day since Hurricane Irma through your kindness and support.