Methodist Coalition Restores Family Homestead in Lake Charles

Mark Lambert
April 05, 2022
Quinn Lavine’s Lake Charles home he inherited from his late grandmother was uninhabitable, thanks to a pair of hurricanes from 2020. A flood in 2021 ruined the belongings, many of which also were from his grandmother.
 
Quinn, a soft-spoken, disabled man with a fixed income and no homeowner’s insurance, was running out of money and hope.
 
“I thought, ‘OK, this is really, really it,’” Quinn said. “I didn’t think I would be able to get help.”
 
Help first arrived on a December afternoon, and Quinn limped through the house, showing visitors where the circuit breaker was. The visitors, partners in a Methodist-led coalition to repair hurricane-battered homes in the Lake Charles area, were estimating the cost of fixing the 60-year-old wood-frame house.
 
As Quinn talked about the house, memories of his grandmother and the weight of losses stacked upon losses overwhelmed him. A video to document the physical damage also captured the emotional damage.
 
“It was also very hurtful because of the fact it was originally my grandmother’s house. Now I’m going to get teary-eyed,” Quinn said, his voice cracking. “Everything of hers was gone.”
Quinn Lavine

 
Less than three months later, Quinn’s tears were replaced by smiles, laughs, and gratitude that his house had been restored, thanks to a network of Christians he didn’t know and organizations he never heard of.
 
On Ash Wednesday, in a makeshift dining hall behind University United Methodist Church, Amish volunteers who had traveled from Ohio to repair homes treated Quinn and other homeowners to a homemade dinner. The Amish provide the labor as part of the home-rebuilding coalition led by the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.
 
After everyone feasted on chicken, mixed vegetables, and apple dumplings, Quinn and his elderly parents laughed, hugged, and took pictures with the people who had worked to restore his home. One of them was Julie Lafosse, case manager for the Conference’s Office of Missional Engagement and Outreach and the point person who shepherded Quinn’s case to the finish line.
 
“Quinn had kind of lost hope; he didn’t think this was ever going to happen. I think he was always nervous because there has been so much fraudulent activity and scams going around that targeted these victims in Lake Charles,” Lafosse said. “He is the sweetest, most gentle person, and I’m happy he’s back in his house.”
 
Quinn was living with his parents while Julie and the Louisiana Conference worked to find resources to repair the house. Quinn didn’t even know repair work had begun until his father drove by to check on the house.
 
“My dad said, ‘There are ladies on the roof working,’” Quinn said, referring to the Amish women, clad in long dresses and bonnets, who often work on roofs.
 
Fast-forward to March 2; Quinn met some of the women – and men – who worked on his roof, ceilings, walls, and floors.
 
“It’s a blessing,” Quinn explained. “I never thought the house would get fixed because I didn’t have insurance, I’m disabled and I’m low-income. The magnitude of what they’ve done…I’m just amazed.”
 
At the dinner, Quinn also met Amish group leader Bert Troyer, a master carpenter who retired from the wood flooring business three years ago. Troyer assigns volunteers to tasks, teaches new skills to the younger men and women, and leads the group in singing hymns after dessert.
 
“Tonight is a chance for us to get acquainted with the homeowners,” Troyer explained. “This is the only chance we get to meet the homeowners because they are not at the houses while we work.”
 
While Quinn wears his emotions on his sleeve, Troyer is more reserved, preferring to focus on the work that is left to be done. He studied a grid on a whiteboard, each square representing a home to be repaired. Many squares, including Quinn’s, are marked “Done” in red marker, but others have long lists of unfinished tasks. Troyer wanted more red, but he was satisfied with the progress.
 
“Usually, we are doing new builds. Home repairs and roof repairs are very different. It’s been a real eye-opener to our young fellas,” Troyer said, gesturing toward some of the young Amish men in the room. “It’s more personal. These homes belong to someone, they have meaning.”
 
The home certainly has meaning for Quinn, who pronounced the repaired home to be “absolutely beautiful.” The repairs feature a new roof and flooring, new sheetrock, and a new bathroom and kitchen, both of which had to be gutted and rebuilt.
 
“My grandmother truly loved and adored the house,” Quinn said. “I’m very, very thankful for everybody who had a part in working on the house and those working behind the scenes. Every one of them is a God-sent angel here on earth. There’s no way possible I could have gotten it done. Not even one room.”
 
 

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