DATON, Ohio — In Dayton, it’s estimated there are more than 400 homes still damaged by the tornadoes that blew through on Memorial Day last year.

  • The North American Lutheran Church sent a group of volunteers all the way from Minnesota to the Gem City
  • The 25 volunteers are working tirelessly on 14 homes, and are hoping to hit 20 while they’re in the Miami Valley
  • The group has been volunteering at natural disaster sites for 15 years

Jesse Lee Rogers and his two sons LeeLand and Legend have been living in a windowless, two-story house, confined to just the first floor due to extensive tornado damage.

Life since the tornado hasn’t been easy. 

“It was hard, it was a struggle, but through God we made it, Rogers said.” 

Rogers and his two sons have been crammed into two rooms downstairs because of the extensive damage upstairs. But Rogers is proud of his property and never thought about leaving —always holding out hope repairs would be made.

“Yeah, I own this and I don’t own much else, but I own this and this is mine. And I wasn’t gonna let it go,” said Rogers.

The roof was missing in places, causing water damage upstairs, and eventually mold. He couldn’t afford the costly repairs, so they made do with what they had. 

And now the Rogers family’s prayers have been answered by way of the North American Lutheran Church. 

Twenty-five volunteers from Minnesota made the trip to Dayton to make a difference in the lives of people struggling with tornado- damaged homes.

Disaster Project Manager for North American Lutheran Church of Dayton Tim Schubach said the volunteers are selfless and truly care about the people they’re helping. 

“This particular group travels for two weeks every year in February to hit some natural disaster,” Schubach said. “And that speaks a lot to their character. They’re dedicated Christian people who want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Volunteer Nick Stone says it’s something they’re more than happy to do, even in the cold temperatures.

“It’s really a good feeling,” Stone said. “We’ve been doing this for a number of years in a number of disaster places. It’s great to know that we can help and we’re able to help. We have the physical abilities, definitely the construction abilities to really make a difference.”

The NALC volunteers are hammering away, rebuilding as many tornado-damaged houses in Dayton as they can. But they don’t have enough funding to tackle the entire job. So, they’re asking for help from anyone who’s willing to contribute.

“If people want to donate, they can write a check to Living Water Lutheran Church and pop it in the mail, or they can call me,” Schubach said. “And I will be more than happy to tell them how they can donate financially or be a part of our repair team.” 

As for Rogers, he’s grateful for all the help he’s receiving for himself and his two sons.

“Yeah, I really appreciate them coming down and I really appreciate everything they do,” Rogers said. “I’m just lost for words. I’m just so glad for everything they’re doing for me — otherwise, I’d just be in shambles.” 

If you would like to either donate or become a volunteer, you can visit the North American Lutheran Church’s website and click the disaster response tab.