September 2017 was one to remember in the Florida Keys as it was directly impacted by category 5 Hurricane Irma’s path. Our Little Roses Foreign Mission Society’s office is located in Miami, Florida and while the office itself endured hurricane force winds and rain, it was nothing compared to those of our neighbors of the south in the Florida Keys. Long-time donors and sponsors, Debra Andrews and Kirk Maconaughey, recounted how Hurricane Irma impacted their lives, the lives of Our Little Roses’ Mission Members from St. Columba Episcopal Church, and how love builds through the wake of disaster:
“Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on September 10, 2017, displacing thousands of people, ruining homes and businesses and causing havoc throughout the island chain. When everyone was allowed to return to the Florida Keys we were shocked and deeply saddened by the destruction. Our parish quickly got to work helping people with removing debris, cutting down trees, received 25 truckloads of relief supplies and most of all offering hope by ministering to the needs of the people. We very quickly realized that with so many homes destroyed that one of the best things we could do was help provide places for people to live. Through generous donations from our parish, churches within the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida and from individuals and organizations around the United States, including Episcopal Relief and Development we were able to purchase or rent 22 RV trailers to place families in, so they could go back to work and move out of the cars and tents that they had been staying in.”
How it All Started…
The Andrews-Maconaughey’s first got involved with Our Little Roses when Kirk traveled to San Pedro Sula as part of a Diocese of Southeast Florida Clergy Spouse event that combined both mission and fellowship opportunities at the residence. “From the moment I visited OLR, I became committed to helping and being a part of the wonderful ministry taking place through the Our Little Roses Home for Girls. When I returned to St. Columba Episcopal Church, our parish in the Florida Keys, I very quickly convinced our parish to get involved through both education, sponsorship opportunities and mission trips to Honduras. We became sponsors of [one of the girls] and have enjoyed watching her grow into a confident and talented teen.”
The community of St. Columba has been on several missions to Our Little Roses and recall shared memories between the teams of building relationships between the girls of OLR and the parish. When Hurricane Irma hit in 2017 they opened a Disaster Relief Temporary Park that remained open until June 1st to house those that had newfound homes in one of the many trailers purchased or rented. Much like the mission behind Our Little Roses, to provide basic human necessities to those in need – including shelter, St. Columba purchased an 18-unit apartment complex that they are currently repairing to support the people in their community.
“We have loved our relationship with the girls and the staff at Our Little Roses. Our altar is graced with special linens designed and made by the girls at Our Little Roses, we have special communion set that we use on certain Sundays to remind us of our relationships and have also as constant beautiful reminders carved mahogany crosses and a carved door piece that keeps us close in our eyes and hearts to the home.”
Though the parish has been extraordinarily busy over the past year with recovery efforts (including carving a new cross at the entrance of their parish from a lightning struck tree), they continue to shine a light on Our Little Roses, give love and hope to their local community, and prosper through the wake of disaster.