History of Sheds of HOPE
During the early stages of the PCA response to Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed coastal AL, MS and LA, MNA Disaster Response was hard at work. This work included locating our PCA families, stabilizing church and home structures, distributing commodities, feeding, sheltering, undertaking debris cleanup including muck-outs, gutting, blue-tarping and roofing and many, many other activities to serve storm-crushed families. One asset glaringly absent was storage capacity for recovered home-owner property. Storage rental businesses that were not destroyed were quickly sold out; survivors struggled to secure their belongings, to preserve any recovered photographs, documents, family furniture, clothing, etc. (Note: This deficiency is repeated after every disaster event in every community!)
Early in January 2006, Rev. Jean Larroux came into contact with volunteers Conrad Velasco from Sumpter SC and Jake Earle from Mt Pleasant SC, who, with little resources, were building storage sheds for Katrina survivors using materials gleaned mostly from debris piles in Pearlington and Lower Bay MS. They called their ministry Sheds for Jesus. No two were alike and although crude in appearance and construction, they were a blessing to the homeowners who received them.
Lagniappe PCA (mission), a new church plant in Bay St Louis MS, adopted the fledging ministry, and Conrad. The work was then renamed the Shed Project, then Shed the Love and finally Sheds of HOPE. Lagniappe PCA, equipped with a robust PCA volunteer workforce began building 8’x8’ yard barns in earnest by purchasing shed kits in large quantities from box stores. Dr Thomas Armour, a problem-solving, regularly-returning volunteer from Grove City PA, quickly realized the sheds could be better and modified the store-bought-shed plans to make the sheds stronger.
Within a few years 700 sheds were placed and our Lord blessed the efforts of what is now known as Sheds of HOPE (SOH).
Katrina volunteer hosting sites began closing during 2009 and MNA Disaster Response continued to develop the Sheds of HOPE ministry which flourished and expanded as SOH were constructed across the nation in communities disrupted by major disasters. More than 1,700 Sheds of Hope have been constructed and placed free of charge to tempest-tossed families. 700+ along the MS & LA Gulf Coast, 200+ in Moore Oklahoma, 50+ in Houston, 50+ in Panama City, 50+ in NE Alabama, and dozens each at various recovery sites in Al, FL, GA, IA, IL, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, and WV. SOH has become notorious throughout faith-based disaster response agencies and the many PCA communities where MNA Disaster Response has established operations. MNA SOH has been catalytic in propelling other denominations and faith-based organizations to adopt our mission of providing storage capacity as a Gospel-entry point, including the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the One Hope Network, a collective of 75+ congregations based in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon which have built at least 143 SOH in the aftermath of the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire. We make SOH plans and expert coaching available free of charge to any individual or group.
Rev. John Browne began volunteering with MNA Disaster Response in 2006 during the Katrina response by organizing and leading teams to the MS Gulf Coast from Metrocrest PCA, a congregation he was serving in Carrolton TX. He helped construct SOH for survivors after the 2012 EF-5 Henryville IN Tornado. During the 2013 Moore OK tornado response John served tirelessly as a volunteer construction manager for the SOH project. During this time John’s love for carpentry was rekindled. With approval from MNA John began developing a new design and construction process that, when followed, ensures SOH could be constructed repetitively without deviation at different times, by different volunteer groups, in different locations. Using John’s new design SOH would be built from scratch so as to control the quality and delivery of SOH rather than purchasing a low-quality product from box stores that were often difficult to source when needed. John proved more than capable as a wise, steadfast, strong, winsome leader.
MNA Disaster Response invited John to join its staff effective January 1, 2015, to oversee, further develop, and expand the MNA Sheds of HOPE ministry. SOH kits are now regularly prebuilt by four PCA congregations in AL, TN, GA, LA, and occasionally by congregations in MI and PA. Typically 70-80 SOH are on-hand at the MNA warehouse and regional depots.
One great outcome of this ministry is the relationship we build with the recipient families as we spend time with them during the build. Many times this is the first time the family has been around the household of faith; we have been blessed with an opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love to those who are open to hearing about the redemptive power of Christ.