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Mar 31, 2011 | Luke Blount

Homeowners' Letter Reveals Struggles and Blessings in Galveston

 The Brooks and their granddaughter
meet the Presiding Bishop 

In the summer of 2010, Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development (TEDRD) had already begun work on the home of Renia and Melvin Brooks in Galveston, Texas. However, after some preliminary efforts, work stopped at the Brooks home. The bank was threatening them with foreclosure.


After Hurricane Ike’s damaging winds and flood waters left their home uninhabitable in the fall of 2008, the Brooks were forced to move out and find temporary housing.


“It was a mess with water damage and rain from the windows,” Mrs. Brooks told the Galveston Daily News. “We stayed in a hotel, all together in just one room — then had to find a place to rent. We couldn’t get any help from FEMA.”


Mr. Brooks was then laid off from his job of 27 years, and Mrs. Brooks was forced to pick up two jobs to support her family. Over the course of the next two years, the Brooks struggled to pay their mortgage in addition to rent on their apartment. They sought help from every avenue, but hope for a return to their home seemed dim.


But after hearing from a co-worker about the relief work of The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Mrs. Brooks reached out again for help. This time, TEDRD was ready to restore their home, free of charge. That’s when the bank called.


“I believe when there is a will, there is a way, with faith, hope, love and God,” wrote Mrs. Brooks in a thank you letter to the Diocese of Texas.


The Brooks fought for months in the fall of 2010 to reach a consensus on their mortgage, finally reaching an agreement in November. TEDRD immediately began work on the home, finishing it and the entire Galveston project at the end of February.


But prior to the finishing touches, the home received a blessing from the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.


“Our job is to help those who need our help and to be blessed in the process,” Jefferts Schori told the Galveston Daily News. “People who do this kind of work come away saying how transformative it is. Others hear these stories and want to do something as well.”


“When (Relief Coordinator Maggie Immler) told me that the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori had chosen our home to be blessed, our hearts filled with joy, peace and faith,” wrote Mrs. Brooks.


The Brooks are now settled into their home, with the help of a check sent by the Presiding Bishop to pay for appliances. Jefferts Schori felt compelled to send more aid after reading the family’s first person account of their struggle.


“There is a healing in the will of God, a pulling together of the pieces of our lives,” wrote Mrs. Brooks. “It doesn’t mean we will always understand what is happening to us, but we bring our torn edges to Him who holds us together.”


Read the Brooks’ story in their own words here.