“PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (RNS) — When it comes to disaster relief, few outfits across the South have been as organized, efficient or cheerful as the Baptist and Methodist recovery networks.
Whether it’s tornadoes, floods or hurricanes, their know-how and can-do spirit have helped people gut uninhabitable homes and rebuild them from stud to kitchen cabinet.
Imagine Delores J. Porter’s surprise, then, when she gingerly stepped onto the exposed floor joists of her torn-out home to find a troop of young Muslim volunteers in blue “Islamic Relief USA” T-shirts installing support beams in the 90-degree heat.
“I just don’t know how to thank you enough,” said Porter, 61, a lifelong resident of Princeville, wiping the sweat off her forehead. “If I start tearing, just forgive me. It has been a long journey.”
The majority of the Muslim volunteers were women — many wearing a headscarf — and they made it a point to reassure homeowners who popped in to see the work that they were honored to work in their home.
They also insisted on a selfie.
Porter explained to the volunteers that she lost her parents’ home in 1999 and never imagined she would live to see another flood. She was visiting her daughter and granddaughter in Durham, 100 miles to the west, when the town flooded, but like many residents she decided to return to Princeville.
“I’m like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’” Porter told the volunteers. “I said, ‘There’s no place like home.’”
Porter, who is a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, which lies kitty-corner from her house, said she was surprised to see the Muslims there. They were not there in 1999, when it was mostly Christian volunteers helping the town rebuild.
“It just tells me you have people who have a generous heart and it doesn’t matter what religion they are,” she said. ‘It’s just a blessing.’ ”
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