Can one or two people make a difference in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey?

Paul Vogel from Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, Indiana and Jim Bognar, a Merrillville police officer, in Houston to help families after Hurricane Harvey blasted the Texas with wind and almost unending rainfall.


Mr. Liu with Paul Vogel. Mr. Liu is a Vietnamese homeowner who just moved into his home three weeks before the storm. He liked the river location because it reminded him of home. His family escaped Vietnam after the communist takeover via a boat to the Philippines.



Paul Vogel (left) with his team, working to help families with clean-up in Houston.

There is a story of a man who came upon a small child tossing starfish back into the ocean.  The man asked the boy what he was doing.  The boy picked up another starfish and threw it as far as he could, and told the man he was saving the starfish’s life.  The man looked around and saw hundreds of beached starfish and told the boy he was wasting his time.  “There are hundreds of starfish here so what difference will it make if you save a few?”, he asked.  The boy went about his business as he threw another starfish into the water, turned to the old man and declared, “It made a difference to that one.”

Loading up a truck of all sorts of things that will be needed for the people of Houston.

Items collected from Calumet Park Cemetery and affiliates employees and members of Valley Baptist Church and Bridgepoint Church in Valparaiso.

And so it is with two local men who felt that driving to Houston, hooking up with the Second Baptist Church and Pastor Craig Reynolds (a former Houston Astros shortstop) in Houston, and donating their time and energy to helping where needed.  Their mission is to help in any way possible and to answer the simple question of WWJD. .. What would Jesus do?  Paul and Jim are on a mission to “save some starfish”, and what better way than to get your hands dirty and help families, one at a time.

As difficult to believe it to be possible, looters are going through neighborhoods and stealing from those who have had their lives turned upside down from the storms. There should be a special place in hell for such sinful behavior.

The devastation from Hurricane Harvey is beyond anything that words can describe.  Pictures can show the destruction of homes, cars, businesses and even life.  Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and everything you owned was gone.  Include in this the business that you worked at, the paycheck that no longer exists, the lack of food and shelter, and the despair and loss of hope that you would be feeling.  And in every direction you look your friends and family and neighbors by the millions are frightened to their last nerve as you all wonder how you will survive.  There is no electricity, no water, no food, no stores to buy food, no way to get to stores if money were not an issue,  and all the while the threat of another hurricane lurking in the Atlantic.

Storms do bring out the worst in people, but they also bring out the best in so many others.  There are thousands of Paul Vogel’s and Jim Bognar’s descending on Houston and Florida with but the muscle on their bones and a desire to help every family, rich or poor, white or black or Hispanic, and every color in-between, and every faith under God.  Seen nailed over one door was a simple sign:  Grant me patience Lord, but hurry!!  Our TV’s are filled with videos and pictures that try to capture all that is going on in Houston and now, Florida, and all the other countries that were hit so hard by Hurricane Irma.

The simple phrase This Too Shall Pass makes for a nice graphic to place over a sofa in one’s home, but it is hard to believe the message when the sofa and the wall of the house has been blown away.  This is where true faith comes in as there will come a time that all of the houses will be rebuilt.  All the furniture, and clothes and appliances and cars and all that has been lost will be replenished.  Eternity is what ultimately matters, and all of those who have joined in the quest to rebuild Houston and the East Coast and beyond are following their hearts as they seek to be of service to all of the victims as God’s helpers.

So, thanks to Paul, and Jim and the thousands who have donated to the cause of rebuilding lives.  Find a charitable group, from the Red Cross to veterans groups to local churches that are collecting money to help those who cannot help themselves, and give as though you were the one that needed to receive.  Forego the steak and go with a hot dog and send the extra money to help.  Every penny does become a dollar which does become a life savor to those who need your kindness and generosity more now than ever before.  You will feel great when you give more than you think you can afford.

And prayers are always welcomed…for the victims and for those trying to make a difference to every starfish and every child of God.

For information of prearranging for cemetery and funeral needs, call 219-769-8803.

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