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Ms. Alice - Welcome Home Party in Southwest Louisiana

"It rained all that morning," recalls Ms. Alice, referring to May 17th, 2021, when Southwest Louisiana was hit by more than 15 inches of torrential downpour within 12 hours. Her house's entire yard was covered in four to seven feet of water, less than a year after watching the deadly winds of Hurricane Laura rip the roof off her house above her. Despite being alone as the floodwaters rapidly rose, Ms. Alice remained calm, cool, and collected until John O'Donnell, now-SBP Executive Director in Southwest Louisiana, showed up at her doorstep to evacuate her from her home.

Ms. Alice & John
Ms. Alice & John O'Donnell wading through the flood waters

When John let her know he was there to help, she put her arm around him as they used a piece of floating debris to wade through the deep floodwaters. Even though she couldn't swim, she remained cheerful, joking about the many snakes she imagined floating through the water to get them. Both John and Ms. Alice consider the moment a stroke of fate, for they now share a bond for which they are incredibly grateful. Although the disaster was a tragedy, a friendship was born between these two residents of Lake Charles, who otherwise may have remained complete strangers – a rose breaking through the concrete of life's harsh reality.

Brian, Ms. Alice, & John
Brian Deubert, Construction Project Manager, Ms. Alice, and John O'Donnell, Executive Director of Southwest Louisiana

After John was hired as SBP's Executive Director of Southwest Louisiana, Ms. Alice became his first home rebuild client in another moment of serendipity. He showed up again at her doorstep, ecstatic to offer her SBP's rebuild services. Since then, SBP has worked towards returning Ms. Alice home by repairing sheetrock, flooring, and subflooring. Volunteers from UMCorps and Mennonite Disaster Services also assisted SBP and Ms. Alice by painting the interior of her house, for which the entire SBP team is incredibly grateful.

Ms. Alice & Family
Ms. Alice & Family

After all the necessary restoration work was complete, SBP's entire Southwest Louisiana team welcomed Ms. Alice and her family home on Monday, May 9th, 2022. John spent all morning baking a homemade cake and sharing stories of Ms. Alice with members of SBP's national staff, while Ms. Alice made sure all of her family were in attendance. During the event, SBP's Community Engagement Manager, Laura Grantham, presented Ms. Alice with hundreds of beautiful welcome home cards hand-made by volunteers from Farmers Insurance. She was overjoyed by all the love and support she received from all over the country.

Alice Granddaughter 1
John Alice Cake 1

When Ms. Alice finally cut the ribbon, marking the completion of the rebuild and the beginning of this new chapter of her life, there were many cheers and tears of joy. John was particularly grateful for having brought his sunglasses to the event. "I'm glad that she's home," he shared, "I know that she's happy to be."

Ms. Alice Welcome Home Party
Ms. Alice Welcome Home Party Ribbon Cutting

Ms. Alice looks forward to returning to her everyday life with her two grown children, Kirby and Don, and seven grandchildren. She even extended an invite to SBP's team to stop by for a fried okra cookout whenever they'd like. "Y'all don't forget me now," she said, with a smile warm enough to melt the coldest heart. A special thank you goes to Lowe’s, UMCOR, Mennonite Disaster Services, and Farmers Insurance, whom without their collaboration, this day would not be possible.