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From left, Mennonite, Gideon Young, from Disaster Aid of Ohio, CBDRG Executive Director Christopher Brandt and Board President Donna Rosson prepare for the groundbreaking ceremony of "Tierra de Esperanza."

Photos by Mary Cottingham | for STC 

The Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG), along with its many partners, broke ground on “Tierra de Esperanza” (Land of Hope) on Sept. 23. Twenty-three new homes will soon be built on this 3.6-acre lot in Woodsboro, a small town, in Refugio County.

Volunteers from Disaster Aid of Ohio and Mennonite Disaster Service will build the houses. Amish and Mennonites alike are committed to these two non profit organizations and will volunteer their time and talent for two weeks at a time until the work is complete, hopefully sometime in April of 2021.

The Diocese of Corpus Christi has provided living quarters for them at Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Parish in Refugio. Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi continues to partner with CBDRG and many of its partners in other counties.

During the groundbreaking ceremony at 611 Pugh Street, Executive Director Christopher Brandt of CBDRG welcomed attendees, saying, “Esperanza means hope. It took all of us to come together to start this project and how fortunate CBDRG is to be a part of this.

“We look tall because we stand on the shoulders of giants,” Brandt said.

The City of Woodsboro and Refugio County will also be pooling together their resources, providing water, wastewater and electricity to area residents. Rebuild Texas Fund and Week of Compassion have donated funds for this endeavor, and the Food Bank of the Golden Crescent will stock the refrigerators, giving residents a head start at their new location.

Mayor Kay Roach of Woodsboro thanked David and Nonah Keyes, who sold the land to CBDRG. Nonah said the property had been in her family for years and was happy that it would go to a good cause.

County Judge of Refugio, Robert Blaschke, commended CBDRG and Mayor Roach. He said, “For coming together with all these agencies and putting people back into their homes – it’s heartwarming for that group to stand up and accomplish what they’ve done. The past three years is truly a testament to, first of all, just perseverance and tenacity,” Judge Blaschke said.

Jeff Koller, a Regional operations Coordinator for Mennonite Disaster Services, said that at first, he was going to speak on the many parts that make up the body in Corinthians 1 12:20 but instead quoted Pope Francis saying, “”Rivers do not drink their own water. Trees do not eat their own fruit. The sun does not shine on itself. Flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. “Koller continued, saying, “To keep living for others is the rule of nature. We are all born to help each other, no matter how difficult life is.

“Life is good when you are happy, but much better when others are happy because of you.’ We have a tremendous opportunity to be happy because of others helping one another. All these folks are coming together to make this happen,” Koller said.

Bishop Michael Mulvey provided a blessing for the land. He expressed his gratitude to all the groups involved in the project and the young people coming to help build from Ohio and other places; he said, “I am very, very grateful for that. “I know that families are going to be filled with hope seeing these young people here working.

“Thank you to the city, the county, and all these agencies by just coming together and working together. It’s a beautiful sight. And I know for me, it gives me great hope for the world we live in,” Bishop Mulvey said. “This is a seed of hope right here.”

I don’t think long term disaster recovery can really work well without faith, hope and love. And this Tierra de Esperanza project will bring all that to the city of Woodsboro,” said Board President Donna Rosson of CBDRG. “Let’s dig.”

Three years ago, at least half the residents in Woodsboro were devastated by Hurricane Harvey’s effects. This coordinated effort by many different nonprofit groups with other Christian affiliations will work as one by providing housing to 23 families in need. Coordinated efforts by many of these groups have already given 13 families in Woodsboro a safe environment to thrive.


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