Bringing Hands and Hearts, Help and Humanity

Nov 22, 2018 | Community Betterment News

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael violently bashed the Florida Panhandle as a category 4 storm! With sustained winds of over 150 mph it pummeled the area of Mexico Beach and surrounding areas leaving ghastly devastation.

The hurricane made landfall at Mexico Beach and severely destroyed the infrastructure of surrounding areas such as Panama City, Callaway and many nearby communities. These areas looked like they were ripped through and flattened as if they were put through a food processor!

Thankfully the loss of life was quite minimal because the magnitude of the storm was well forewarned and mandatory evacuations occurred. However, the total devastation of homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure was epic!

It is now stated that Hurricane Michael is in the top three most devastating storms on USA record!

Believing and living the mantra, “Something Can Be Done About It,” the Volunteer Ministers (VMs) of the Church of Scientology immediately sprang into action helping with disaster relief. The VM network is international with thousands of members and volunteers all over the world.

In recent years Florida and neighboring states have experienced quite a few massive hurricanes.

As a quick note: the VMs have sent hundreds of volunteers to bring assistance with the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, Irma, Maria and Florence, to name just a few.

The VMs are a vital member of the National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and are respected and appreciated for the help they bring to not only victims but also to Rescue and Relief professionals. The VMs help from a point of distribution,1 feeding and bringing relief and assistance to the police, firefighters and rescue workers on the ground, to first aid, clean-up and debris removal of magnitude.

As CES has always been active in helping our fellows, we joined in right away to work alongside of the people who were bringing real assistance.

I attended a briefing in Clearwater and knew we had to help. In short order I was filling my car with supplies and volunteers for a trip to the Panhandle. Here in Clearwater we didn’t really have much effect from Michael. As we drove north and approached Tallahassee, we began to see such devastation—entire pine forest lines were completely snapped like twigs and huge power lines were down for miles and miles.

The best sight was when we would see a long “convoy” of rescue and police vehicles, heavy equipment and trucks coming in from all over the country!

We were rerouted a few times because roads were fully closed down with trees and power lines blocking them. Cell phone coverage became non-existent and so did fuel for vehicles.

We made it to Panama City where we connected with the other Volunteer Ministers who had begun helping at the Lighthouse Baptist Church. They had driven all night, after leaving their work in North Carolina where they were engaged in relief efforts after Hurricane Florence.

We parked and immediately got to work unloading two trucks filled with water and supplies for the community. Our team of four girls from Clearwater joined a parish of wonderful caring people who only wanted to help their community. Despite their own homes and church having received much damage, they stayed, got generators going, started to distribute to the masses and to feed the volunteers. We were welcomed and were shown so much appreciation and respect. It felt like being part of a new family to me. In fact, we were invited to sleep in the church and were given bedding, flashlights and meals. For the entire weekend, this became our home. It was a beautiful thing to snap into gear so fast and work with such amazingly unselfish people. Spirits were high despite the devastation!

After working for several hours, I was asked to walk across the big open property to help out at yet another church that had been badly damaged next door. This church was Saint Dominic Catholic Church. I arrived to a scene that appeared to me as if a bomb had gone off. Building debris was everywhere! A complex of offices, an auditorium and classrooms were left in waste! The main building had no roof and no walls. It was just a complete churned-up mass of broken glass and walls and broken furniture was strewn all about.

To me this was no hurricane! How could that be? It was a post-apocalyptic scene.

It turns out that it was the result of a hurrnado2 and everything was completely destroyed, nothing to salvage.

I was taken aback and had to compose myself. I then remembered why I was there…TO HELP OTHERS, and I pulled it together and walked out to a parking lot where I saw a great deal of action. Many people, all buzzing around working, being upbeat and showing such love and dedication to others. Lines of cars were being organized and communicated to and sent to various stations which were being set up in real time.

I walked over to the water cases and said I was there to help. I was welcomed and set to work. A super-amazing gentleman named Lucky made me feel so at ease and appreciated. We worked side by side all day long and made each other laugh. This made the hard work upbeat and happy.

Saint Dominic’s parishioners showed their pure spirit, kindness and true charity to the masses. In fact they are STILL distributing as one of the only points of distribution left in the area. They have now given out food and untold amount of supplies to many thousands. All the while, having to completely rebuild their church and needing countless dollars to do that.

I reached out to them as I wanted their story and their rebuilding efforts to be heard and supported. My November 6th @Talk of the Town radio show was dedicated to them telling their story. Their beautiful music director, Lori Ubowski joined me by telephone to tell their story. Here’s where you can see the actual radio show:

Please watch the show and see if you can find it in your heart to help St. Dominic’s rebuild!

Being so motivated to help the Panhandle, we started a donation and support drive.

With our non-profit organization, Concerned Businessmen’s Association of Tampa Bay, we created a donation drive. We also designed a special t-shirt in support! “We Stand Together FLORIDA STRONG” shirts were awarded to people for their $20.00 donation to the cause of supporting the Panhandle Relief Efforts.

Should you wish to be awarded one of these beautiful support T-shirts, please make your $20+ donation today:

Please stay tuned because we will continue to help St. Dominic’s to rebuild their church and buildings. These people have such a strong helping spirit and have taken so much effective action to help others despite their own personal disasters. People like this deserve to be helped.

If you’d like to contact them visit or write to:

Saint Dominic Catholic Church
3308 E. 15th Street
Panama City, Florida 32405-7414
(850) 785-4574
Facebook: Saint Dominic Catholic Church


1 point of distribution (POD): where the public goes to pick up emergency supplies following a disaster.
2 hurrnado: a combination hurricane and tornado.

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