Belinda and Jimmy Martin stand in front of the home the parishioners of St. Catherine's helped to build. (Contributed)

Archived Story

St. Catherine’s rebuilds home

Published 11:38am Friday, December 23, 2011

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – After the April tornadoes, the parishioners of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church came together to adopt the Martin family, who lost their home when a tornado tore through Moundville.

“I had never seen this devastation before. It blew our minds what destruction there was,” said Bill Wheeler, who is in charge of the church’s outreach program. “The Martin’s home literally disappeared in the tornado. It was just a mess.

“The land was cleared from the trees down. We cleared away construction materials. We built a fence around the property,” he added. “When you lose everything, you have to start from scratch, everything from a can opener to rakes.”

When the tornado hit, Belinda and Jimmy Martin, who didn’t have time to get out of their house, were “yanked apart as their home was torn apart,” Wheeler said. Jimmy Martin was thrown about 100 feet from the house and was in a coma for 10 days and in the hospital for two months, Wheelers said.

“This couple has never asked for anything in their life. They find it very hard to ask for a hand, and so we adopted them sight unseen,” Wheeler said. “Now they’re a part of our parish. We literally adopted them, and we’ll be friends forever. This was a true effort of the entire parish.”

The church of about 80 members joined with the Habitat for Humanity to rebuild the Martin’s house. The church members would prepare food to feed volunteers, serve the food and clear the land around the house.

One lady from the church donated furniture from her late mother’s house. Two trucks pulling trailers transported the furniture to fill the new two bedroom, two bathroom home.

“We will go down and celebrate the holidays with them, and they will come up and have Eucharist with us,” Wheeler said. “We have built a serious family relationship with them. I feel very comfortable, and even though they’re two hours away, they’re part of our bigger family.”

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