First-person story

Lending a hand to help Samaritan’s Purse


As I helped my aunt and uncle sift through what remained of their one-story home in Oceanside the day after Hurricane Sandy flooded nearly all of their belongings, I knew there were thousands of others doing exactly the same.

I wanted to help, but I didn’t know how. Sure, donations are great, but I wanted to provide assistance more directly.

A few days later, as I was sitting through a Lynbrook Village Board meeting on Nov. 5, Tim Haas, of Samaritan’s Purse, got up to address the board. He said that Samaritan’s Purse, a faith-based organization that provides free disaster relief to afflicted regions, among a bevy of other things, was looking for volunteers to help strip flooded houses in the area.

By the end of the week, I made my Samaritan’s Purse debut at a home in Long Beach.

Samaritan’s Purse, which is based in Boone, N.C., has partnered up with Vineyard Church on Denton Avenue in Lynbrook to provide hurricane relief. Members of Samaritan’s Purse come from across the county to help those in need, including the group leader at my site, Gary Snyder, who drove from Orrville, Ohio to help.

Snyder, who is president of a pattern making business, took three weeks off from work in order to assist Samaritan’s Purse. “The big thing is for me is it’s not about the size of the magnitude of the disaster, it’s about the people that are impacted by it,” he said. “We cannot fix everything, but we can make a change in a small number of peoples’ lives.”

One of those lives Snyder and his crew impacted was Chris Orza, whose Long Beach home was devastated by Sandy. Orza, who grew up in the home, lives with his wife of 10 years, Kate, and his three young sons. After returning after the storm, Orza had to face the fact that his home was destroyed. He was all set to hire a contractor to gut the house, which would have cost $30,000, he said, until Samaritan’s Purse got wind of his story and offered to help out. Orza is currently disabled after being injured while working a year and a half ago.

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