Mennonites rebuild home for mother, son

Published 1:38 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

Joyce Prudhomme and her son, Michael finally have a place to call home again after their home was damaged by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020.

The Prudhommes are now settling into their new home built on the family’s property on Millard Street by volunteers from the Mennonite Disaster Service. Many of the volunteers were on hand Wednesday to officially welcome the Prudhommes to their new home and bless the house.

“It’s really beautiful and I thank everyone who did it,” Joyce said, wiping away her tears. “It’s lovely. I never had anything like this.”

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Her son, Michael was also emotional, as he was surrounded by well wishers who helped dedicate the new home.

“I thank the Lord for us to finally have a home to live in,” Michael said. “If it wasn’t for these people we wouldn’t have a place to live.”

Mennonite Disaster Service Response Coordinator Phil Helmuth said the organization works to help people get back on their feet and restore their lives following disasters.

“We aren’t here to just put a band-aid on it,” Helmuth said. “Our goal is to bring the homes back to where they were pre-storm or better.”

The Prudhomme’s home is among the 235 homes in Southwest Louisiana that the Mennonite Disaster Service has worked on the last three-and-a-half years in the wake of hurricanes Laura and Delta, Helmuth said. The group has worked to demolish, rebuild, remodel and repair homes for families from Lake Charles to Jennings, he said.

“It feels good to be able to have an impact on the number of families we have been able to touch,” Helmuth said.

The group has spent over $7 million on materials and labor in Southwest Louisiana alone, he said.

“In reality we get to help so many families who wouldn’t normally be able to get back on their feet,” Hannah Sober, director of case management for SWLA Responds said. “We are able to make a new home for families who need it.”

Colby Perry, a friend and caretaker for the Prudhommes, said the project is a heartwarming and inspiring story of resilience and compassion and a new beginning for the Prudhommes who had been living with mold and in deplorable conditions despite health issues.

Joyce, who recently turned 80, battles chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and relies on an oxygen machine and uses a wheelchair. Michael has a brain injury from a past accident.

“The Prudhommes faced challenging living conditions in their previous home, exacerbated by the debilitating summer heat last summer and the aftermath of hurricanes Laura and Delta,” Perry said. “Joyce’s efforts as a single mother to care for Michael were commendable, but their living conditions were deplorable, with mold infestations impacting Joyce’s pulmonary health.”

The Prudhommes have been living with Perry’s mother, Tina, since moving out of the home last summer before volunteers began tearing down the old home making way for the new structure.

“As Mrs. Joyce ages, the new home not only provides a safe and comfortable space for her, but also a lasting residence for her son, Michael,” Perry continued. “The Mennonite Disaster Service have not only built a physical structure, but have bestowed a sense of hope and security upon a deserving family.”

The Mennonites Disaster Service will wrap up its local disaster relief this week after completing its final homes in Jennings and Elton.