Labor of Love volunteers helped upgrade her home
Carolyn Zeringue’s floors had become so soft from dampness she worried about them giving way under her feet at her St. Rose home, but she had faith.
“I asked the Lord to send me some help and he did just that,” Zeringue said. “He sent beautiful people. I could have never done it alone.”
They were nearly eight volunteers that came as a result of a partnership called Labor of Love between St. Charles Parish Department of Community Services and St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Together, they aid people in health and safety projects such as installing sheetrock, painting or repairing flooring for people who can’t afford it. They are typically low-income residents such as seniors or the disabled.
Zeringue, a 75-year-old widow, needed the help.
She made the call because she had earlier dealt with Courtney Saucier, Community Services’ housing rehabilitation specialist, and felt comfortable asking for the assistance. Her first call to Saucier, however, took two years to make when her HVAC unit broke.
Soon after, she noticed the floor getting soft.
“It was so important to me because I was really scared to walk on it,” Zeringue said. “I went everyday walking on it, but I was afraid. Anytime it could give away because I didn’t know what was going on under there. They took the whole kitchen floor up to try to figure out what was going on there.”
Zeringue said she’d recommend the organization to anybody.
“I can’t explain how I feel,” Zeringue said. “It was a beautiful experience for me … that people still care about people who need help.”
Volunteer Bobby Kelly said their projects range from small ones like installing a handicap rail to walkways or tubs to replacing sheetrock in the house of a fire victim or fixing walls and floors to make a room useable again. Their free labor allows Saucier to extend funds to do more projects.
“Sometimes fixing a hole in the floor, replacing a toilet or plumbing under a sink allows the homeowner to be able to have a better quality of life,” Kelly said. “Sometimes the homeowner appreciates just having someone coming to the house, talking with them while we are doing our work and the talking seems to be as much of a help as the problem we fix.”
While the recipients of this help are typically as appreciative as Zeringue, Kelly said the volunteers are equally grateful they can help.
“The people that have joined in doing this work consider themselves blessed and lucky and enjoy being able to give back,” Kelly said. “We get satisfaction in seeing the homeowner happy with the repairs that have been made and often there are plenty of hugs going around during the job and after.”
Saucier said Zeringue’s project was among seven recently done by 30 men, women and youths who recently volunteered in the parish. Another 10 men volunteer with Community Services weekly, and she praised Carolyn Boyd with the SCB Peace & Justice Ministry and Janeen Rodrigue with the SCB Fountain of Youth Ministry for also partnering with Community Services.
“Everyone who volunteers makes a lasting impact on our community by showing our less fortunate neighbors that there are people in our community who care about them,” Saucier said. “There are so many other ways that these volunteers could be spending their free time. It is so inspiring to me that they are giving of themselves to help those in need instead of focusing on themselves.”