Crawling into bed on Tuesday evening, Julia Evers began to cry.
But it wasn’t because of the damage done to her childhood home on Barricall Lane by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. This time it was a thank you to the 24 children and five adults who arrived on Monday to repair the damage.
“It’s so humiliating,” she said Wednesday through tears.
As Evers spoke about the hardships her family faced after the 2017 flooding of their home, teams of middle and high school students were working this week to replace the roof and renovate two rooms inside the home.
Two groups of students, one from the First Baptist Church of Kingwood in Kingwood and one from the United Family Fellowship in Brownfield, participate in the Bounce Student Disaster Recovery program. Together with students from Kilgore and Port Neches, the young people will spend the rest of the week working on storm-damaged homes in the Netherlands, Port Arthur and Beaumont.
The group, which operates through Texas Baptists, in partnership with the Orange County Disaster Recovery Organization, operates in the area and is housed at First Baptist Church in the Netherlands.
“It’s actually cool that we ended up in a house where we’re going to meet another church group, so it’s even more beneficial for us,” said Kingwood’s Phil Boedeker. “The main thing is to involve youth groups, middle and high school students to teach them. Some of them have never touched a hammer and we teach them, “Hey, we can do these things.”
“But also, in the end, it’s all about God and service. People open their homes to us and give us the opportunity to make them a little better. At the end of the week, we return home a little tired, but happier.”
Baedeker is one of two team leaders in a team of nine students and two adults who are working to renovate at least two bedrooms in the house.
Another team leader, Adrian Martinez, is part of 15 children and three adults from the United Family Fellowship in Brownfield who are working to replace the roof on the residence.
“I have been on eight mission trips myself,” Martinez said. “In fact, this is my first time leading a brigade; I have been on the team for the last seven years. I did a fence with (Bounce), I did a roof, I did drywall – they do everything.”
And students, he said, are always aware of the mission.
“They are great,” he said. “There are times when I leave a room to help with another room, come back and the floor is already half done. It’s amazing to see them get there, motivated and just thrilled to be able to serve in this way.”
Evers said she and her brother, a police officer in San Marcos, have been trying to renovate their mother’s house for five years.
“My mom has been in this house since Harvey, so she lived like this – no floors, half the walls torn down, almost like the frame of a house,” she said. “On (her brother’s) weekends, he would come here and help put the house together. Then, at the very beginning of the pandemic, he was in a car accident, so he is physically unable to continue doing this.”
It will soon move into one of the rooms being built by the Bounce team, which will also be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The house was badly damaged, but also emotionally,” Evers said. “It’s nice to see these kids come and just help out of the goodness of their hearts. This is very inspiring. They are good, hardworking, and they just don’t stop.”
Both crew commanders commented on this energy.
“It’s incredible to see how motivated kids remain,” Baedeker said. “We’re staying at the First Baptist Church of the Netherlands, so we go back there and they suddenly take a shower and they have the energy to go play a joke or something.”
“We sit and look at them, like, ‘I don’t understand,'” he said.
For Camryn Martinez, 17, it’s the energy that comes with purpose.
The 17-year-old from Brownfield is on her fourth Bounce mission this week.
“I like to go out and help people,” she said. “It’s a really funny thing. Just seeing their faces light up when they see all the progress we have made, just listening to their testimonies and talking about how they got to where they are and how we can help them, we feel empowered. -really happy by sharing the Word of God. If you just pray and just listen, God will bless you with it. He definitely blessed this lady and her house – not only outside, but also inside.