Two years after Hurricane Sandy struck the New Jersey shores in October 2012, many homes are still uninhabitable. Wanting to help, 16-year-old Julia Steenbeek of Ancaster (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church organized a “GO DO” team to help those in need. In July the team traveled to New Jersey, where they were hosted by the Reformed Church of Highland Park.
Steenbeck was motivated after participating in her youth group’s mission trip with World Renew in 2013. “It was neat to see how we touched others’ lives,” she said. “If my house was struck by a hurricane, just to have someone come out to help would mean so much, even if they couldn’t do a lot. That’s why I wanted to keep doing more.” With the support of World Renew and her parents, Steenbeek organized the project from start to finish.
The task was not without challenges. At one point, she was ready to give up as several team members could no longer participate, and there were not enough people or funds. World Renew encouraged her to push ahead, even with the numbers she had. After much prayer and making an announcement at church, several people were able to join the group. Others made donations. For Steenbeek, that was one point where she really saw God at work leading the trip forward so they could go and serve others.
The 90-year-old home the team worked on had been submerged under 8 feet of water after Hurricane Sandy. The team removed the floor and joists, elevated the house, which had sunk 6 inches, replaced the joists, and began laying the plywood floor. Although the team completed more than the project coordinators in New Jersey expected, there is much more to be done.
Steenbeek would love to organize another trip, perhaps after high school. She believes work projects like these are important not only for the people they serve but also for making lasting connections with her own church members and building intergenerational church community.