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Compassion continues weeks after flood waters recede
By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Only weeks after he decided to leave his successful sales profession to embark on a new full-time career ministering to troubled youth, Rod Redcay of Denver was called upon to lend a hand in a matter of a slightly different nature.
It was brought to the attention of Denver Borough Manager Mike Hession that a family of three was living in a water-soaked trailer in the middle of Denver during the weeks that have passed since Tropical Storm Lee ravaged the area. A visit by the code officer to the property shortly thereafter determined that because of the damage and growing of mold, the structure was unfit to live in and needed to be condemned.
Redcay, who has been a member of Denver Borough Council for the past six years, told Hession a while back to let him know if he ever needed any help from the faith based community and the churches in the area to help those who are less fortunate. The time had come.
"I was there for half an hour and felt my lungs fill up with junk," Redcay said of the living conditions in the trailer when he visited the family, the Talalts. The landlord had thought he could fix it up, maybe replace the flooring, but water had permeated the walls, the panels and the floors. The trailer sat two feet above the ground, and during the storm the water rose an additional 18 inches above that in their home.
"There was just no way you were going to clean that up," said Redcay.
Andrew and Angela Talalt, of Hungarian origin, do not have family to whom they could turn for help. Redcay wasted no time and contacted the Cocalico Ministerium, a group of representatives from local churches. The borough found the family an apartment in Denver (enabling their son Sebastian to stay at Denver Elementary School) and the Ministerium agreed to donate $500 toward the first month’s rent of an apartment.
"I’ll take a loan from you and I’ll pay you back," said Andrew to Redcay. His culture is not one to easily want to accept charity. Redcay explained that this was not a loan; it had no strings attached, and if for some reason in the future he felt the need to compensate in some way that would be his choice.
The compassion in this situation extended beyond the immediate Denver community. Ephrata Social Services donated some gift cards for personal necessities and the furniture bank that was already set up in Ephrata post-Tropical Storm Lee was able to offer some furniture.
According to Redcay, Denver did not fare nearly as bad as Ephrata as far as residents losing their homes to the storm.
"From what I know, there was only one family that was displaced in Denver Borough," he said.
Although at first a bit hesitant to accept it, the Talalts, who are currently making their living off Andrew’s part-time salary, greatly appreciated the generosity of the community that assisted them. When visiting their new apartment for the first time, Sebastian, who shyly hid behind his father, noticed the leaves scattered throughout the back yard.
Pulling on his dad’s shirt, the youngster whispered, "Do you think we could ask the man for a rake?"
Redcay’s response was to offer to rake the leaves for them. However, the boy’s enthusiasm and sheer delight in his new home showed clearly in his father’s reply, "No, you don’t understand. He wants a rake to rake it himself and make a pile of leaves and jump in it."
No stranger to struggle, Redcay’s commitment to people in need is not coming to an end as the Talalts settle into their new home and begin to rebuild their lives. Deserted by his father at the age of 10, Redcay’s years growing up were filled with uncertainly as he looked for direction. It was not until after a mentor challenged him that he discovered he could use his experience to help others.
"I realized that there was a need for me to give back because I knew how tough it was when I was a teenager," said Redcay.
Having grown up in Lancaster County, he spent most of his adult career working for Barry’s Paint Shop as the sales manager. He handled customer accounts and worked with insurance companies to help people who were going through a tragedy of their own to get their vehicles fixed.
During his 15-year employment at Barry’s, he took a year and spent it working with the Salvation Army in Punxsutawney to develop a youth outreach program. Upon his return, he worked with youth ministry on the side until 2007, when he started REAL (Relationship Evangelism Affecting Lives) Youth Ministry part-time.
The ministry debuted with the Seven Project, which reached out to young people through high school assemblies. For Redcay, this was just the beginning.
"Communities today seem to have become less open to their neighbors, and there’s no reason for a front porch anymore," said Redcay. "With that obviously comes a struggle for those who are less fortunate and might need some help and people just don’t know."
He saw a need to help youth who are struggling, but also a willingness of churches in the area to help those who are less fortunate. This was evident in activities such as the Acts of Summer Love Lunch Program which started last summer at the area park, where churches took several days out of the week and had food available for the community.
Seeing the potential of churches coming together to meet the needs of the young people, Redcay decided to head his ministry full-time this fall. A big undertaking, his goals for the future include possibly doing youth intervention; helping to manage those in trouble with the law by actually providing someone to help them walk through their life.
Redcay is providing the management experience to make it happen. He hopes to be able to build on the co-operation of the area churches, who pulled together to help families like the Talalts after the flood, in order to continue to meet the needs of the people in the community.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with REAL Youth Ministry may visit realym.com.