Article: Faith Community Bands Together to Help Fire Victims

Here is the article about the volunteers that worked on Jim’s shop that appeared on the front page of The Times Record. You can see the actual article in a higher resolution here (front page) and here (back page).

DURHAM — An interstate group of volunteers is rebuilding a workshop destroyed by fire earlier this month. The effort began with a concrete slab Tuesday morning, with some helpers arriving after a 12-hour drive from Pennsylvania. The two-story workshop had walls and insulation in place by lunchtime Wednesday and volunteers estimated that the building would be complete by Friday, transforming a heap of ashes into a brand new building in less than two weeks.

A crowd of more than 40 men, women and children paused for a song and a prayer before a meal.

“God is great and God is good and we thank Him for our food,” they sang.

Fire leveled the 20 Swamp Road woodworking shop owned by James Gould on Feb. 9. Durham Fire Chief William St. Michel said the blaze began in the area of the furnace. Gould used it for his contracting and woodworking business.

The new workshop arose next to piles of snow blackened by fire debris. Gould expressed gratitude for the help he was receiving, from customers understanding delays in work while the rebuilding was going on to neighbors helping with the effort.

Mark Bucher of Lisbon had volunteers stay at his house and saw the giving of time as a reflection of religious faith.

“I think it’s Christianity working the way it should,” he said.

Local people and volunteers from Pennsylvania belong to the Church of the Brethren. Gould worships at the Pleasant Street church in Brunswick. Some of the Pennsylvania volunteers have helped with victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana with construction projects.

Shane Conant of Lisbon said that volunteers with different specialties and decades of experience took part in the work.

“It’s not very often that you get a crew like this,” he said.

The timing of the project helped. Many contractors are booked up with jobs from the spring until the following December.

Greg and Jill Keeney of Durham helped coordinate the efforts and meals. Greg Keeney said that the majority of volunteers come from the Church of the Brethren with others from the community helping out, too. A neighbor has dropped off food and another has housed volunteers.

“Everybody’s doing the thing that they’re good at to make it happen,” Keeney said.

Gail Card of Bowdoin said her son-in-law planned to help today. She is not a member of the Church of the Brethren, but praised the work they have done. In the fall of 2007, church members from Lewiston put new shingles on the roof of her home.

“They’re people of faith and really put it into action,” she said. “They’re not just looking out for each other. They look out for others as well as themselves. It’s a wonderful, wonderful fellowship of people. It really is. They really care for people.”