Catholic Charities volunteers return from hurricane relief in Texas

October 02, 2017 12:41 AM

ALBANY -- “It feels fantastic, it feels fantastic, it's good to be home,” said Peter Catal, Director of Residential Services of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.

Catal’s feelings seemed to be the sense among his fellow volunteers who arrived to the cheers of co-workers and loved ones at Albany International Airport Sunday evening.

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However, Catal said Texas is still on his mind. 

“Whether its furniture, its children's toys, it's just mounds of debris, it was so overwhelming,” Catal said. 

Helping people through hardships is what Catal and five other Catholic Charities workers who went on the trip do in their day jobs.

David Gabrielsen of Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany said volunteering to help Hurricane Harvey victims in the Houston area is different.

“We were doing things well beyond the scope of our jobs,” Gabrielsen said. “It's going to be weird going back to the office tomorrow.”

Their jobs and life skills did proved to be useful during the mission. 

“From processing paper work for people to apply for assistance to food distribution,” said Bob Boehlert, Catholic Charities Disabilities Services Consultant for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany. “Cleaning supplies, we unstacked pallets, we loaded trucks.”

Boehlert also said not everyone in the Houston area needed the help of the volunteers. 

Some parts were untouched by the storm. 

He said other parts seemed to be completely devastated.

“The poorer areas, the more rural areas, it was heartbreaking. People had nothing left,” Boehlert said. 

Volunteers said the experience was also personally rewarding. 

“The six of us that came down from Albany we didn't know each other before hand so we really got to bond,” Gabrielsen said. 

They bonded with more than one another. 

“You meet a couple families, you meet people several times and it really becomes personal rather quickly,” Catal said. 

Not knowing what happens to those families is the hard part for Catal. 

“It kind of feels like we did leave some unfinished business on the table a little bit,” Catal said. 


Nia Hamm

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