On February 24, 2023 a Pine Island resident named Nicole Williams posted a call for help on Facebook and the Cajun Navy Ground Force responded. Nicole has an elderly neighbor, Cheryl, who lost her husband on February 20, 2023 who was living in a condemned trailer and help was needed to move her into another trailer.
Nicole had evacuated before Hurricane Ian struck and returned to the island by boat four days later to find Miss Cheryl and her recently deceased husband Ollie trapped inside their trailer, surrounded by debris inside and out. The elderly couple had been trapped there without water, electricity, or their much-needed medication to treat their diabetes… Both were diabetic. Nicole and her team were able to get them their insulin the day after they discovered them.
Nicole and her team were able to get their house cleaned up the best they could and made what repairs they were able. In the following months Miss Cheryl fell and broker her hip twice. She fell and broke one hip, returned home, fell and broke the other… After about four months in the hospital, she returned home and lost her husband a few weeks later.
In the midst of all of this tragedy the trailer they had been living in for years was condemned. With the help of Nicole and others in the community they were able to find another trailer nearby and raise enough money to buy and move into the new place. Unfortunately, Miss Cheryl’s husband Ollie passed away on Monday February 20, 2023 and never got to see the new place.
When the Cajun Navy Ground Force responded to Nicole’s post for help, we did not know where the resources to assist would come from, but we didn’t hesitate to deploy. On our way there we learned that one of our volunteers from the Tampa area, Sheri, was already on the island visiting with Gail, who some may recall is a disabled woman living in a tent we helped in early January 2023.
Not having a pickup truck to move large items we began making calls to other contacts we had made during our 80 some days on the island following Hurricane Ian and Tonya, who had also volunteered with the Cajun Navy Ground Force and has been instrumental in helping John B., the army veteran who lost his house during the hurricane, did not hesitate to offer the use of a pickup truck. Tonya was leaving town but left the key for the truck for us to use on Saturday.
On Saturday morning Sheri, along with Gail, John B., and another local volunteer they recruited met up with Nicole and a handful of other amazing residents of Pine Island and we cleaned Miss Cheryl’s new home, put handrails on the steps going into both doors to the trailer, and moved her and her belongings into the new house.
Miss Cheryl told Nicole that this is the first time she will be living alone since 1967… She also told her it’s the first time she moved and didn’t have to pack and unpack to set up her new home.
Nicole has worked tirelessly over the past few months caring for Miss Cheryl and her husband. She became quite close to both of them and should be commended for her efforts and selflessness… She’s an example of how one person’s love can grow a community… She is the seed that brought the Cajun Navy Ground Force and other members of the community together to help Miss Cheryl and has done so even while her own home was destroyed by the hurricane.
The Cajun Navy Ground Force is honored to have the opportunity to embed in communities with such kind and caring people who put the elderly and disabled before themselves.
1 Corinthians 13:13: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
In an era when cable news would have us believe America is divided and full of hate, I can promise you, America is anything but… America is full of kind, caring, loving people who will sacrifice for one another. If you don’t believe that, I challenge you to sign up to volunteer with the Cajun Navy Ground Force during the next natural disaster or call for help we respond to and see for yourself.
Thank you, Nicole and all the Pine Island community, for showing us that miracles are a real thing.
- If you live in the area impacted by any disaster and need assistance please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Please visit Give.GoCajunNavy.org to donate and help up us protect and stabilize the disabled and elderly victims of natural disaster!
- If you would like to volunteer or join us when the next disaster hits, please visit GoCajunNavy.org/volunteer and sign up!