Letter to the editor: Much thanks to Volunteer Ascension

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Where do I ever begin with the THANKS that needs to be delivered this morning? Seventeen trailers and three box trucks left Lamar Dixon Center Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m. and arrived back at 2:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. Yes, 21 hours later, and Ascension Parish made a difference in so many lives in Texas.

There is no way I can mention all the people that made the trip, but I would ask when you have time to add your comments to this post, on how your personal experience was on the 21-hour trip to Texas and back went yesterday.

So, we started out by leaving Lamar Dixon Center at 6:00 a.m. By the time I got to St. Landry Road and Hwy. 30, the trailers and trucks were still pouring out of Lamar Dixon Center. Our convoy to Texas was well over a mile long. Thank you Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and Gonzales Police Department for getting us safely on I-10 for our journey to Texas. Thank you, Greg, Delouise with Two Way Critical Radio Communications, for providing all our trucks with radios to communicate with. And thank you Chuck Cassard with APSO, for finding a fire department radio channel we could use at least all the way to Beaumont Texas.

Our first tragedy would almost strike when we were heading over the new bridge in Baton Rouge. There was an 18-wheeler tire and rim in the middle of the left lane as you went to make the curve to head to the new bridge. This would have cars in the left lane moving over into our convoy without any warning and causing several of our loaded trailers to just about lose control and end up against the

brick wall on I-10 headed to the bridge. How we made it through that without any major incidents, was again work of God.

The second small incident would have us making our first stop for fuel, and we having our first and only trailer tire flat. We had a crew with us that had that tire changed in 3.2 seconds. We have several Pit Crews looking for these amazing volunteers to join their NASCAR Driving Pit Crews for sure.

Our first big stop would have us at Heritage Park Baptist Church in Webster, Texas. At this stop we would unload nine full trailers of supplies and a flatbed trailer full of water, bleach and cleaning supplies. As we unloaded these trailers, so many of the residents would ask, who did this and why?? All we would say was, we are from Ascension Parish, which is in between Baton Rouge and New

Orleans. We would tell them that Ascension stands for people that rise up – no matter what the cause, no matter what the challenge – no matter what State.

They were so amazed that a small rural Parish like Ascension, could produce so many supplies. I’m hoping that some of them see this post, and comment on the experience they saw yesterday. This stop would take care of many communities like Friendswood, League City and Dickinson.

Our second stop would be at a beautiful Middle School called Lobit Middle School in Dickinson, Texas. The principal, teachers, faculty, staff, parents and students could not stop thanking us. Here we would unload two full trailers into their beautiful school. The teachers just kept asking the Ascension

Strong Team, "How in the world did y'all Parish pull this off?" We told them, we live in a Parish that wakes up every day and goes to bed every night, just wanting to love on people and make a difference in people’s lives.

Our third drop would be one to remember. We were supposed to go drop off at Mall of the Mainland in La Marque, Texas. Before we could get there, the coordinator of that drop sent us to a place called Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Texas. He said they were full at Mall of Mainland, and this place would be their overflow place. Man, this place was the perfect location for 17 trailers and 3 box trucks to unload, then head back home. But when we got there, there was a problem. The parking lot was full of white tents with red emblems on each tent. Yep, you guessed it! This was 100 percent against our mission from the start, when we began this journey over two weeks ago at Lamar Dixon Center. So, to make a very long story short, we did not unload here.

We had a Volunteer in our group that heard of a community in Pasadena, Texas that had lost everything. Yep, a small community like Ascension Parish in Pasadena, Texas. Knowing this would make our trip longer and knowing that we would have to travel out of our way to get home, no one in our Volunteer Group complained. Off to Pasadena, Texas we went to drop off the rest of the supplies

we had. When we got to this Steel Workers Union Hall, they were amazed. They worked their tails off with us to unload, and even went and purchased pizza for everyone in our group for the ride home. This was a distribution center for several small communities in Pasadena.

After our last drop, it was time to treat the more than 50 Ascension Volunteers, 17 trailers and 3 box trailers to, yes you guessed it – Buc-ee’s Truck Stop. If you have never been to a Buc-ee’s Truck Stop in Texas, don’t pass one up! You will not be disappointed.

After that wonderful experience, we all headed down I-10 eastbound to Ascension Parish. We arrived at Lamar Dixon for somewhere around 2:00 a.m. this morning. You guessed it, a 21-hour trip to Texas and back. What was amazing was, not one complaint, not one disappointment, and everyone worked

so well together.

Our hearts were completely shattered a year ago, here in Ascension, but our faith remained strong, and we survived. We survived to make a difference in so many lives yesterday in Texas.

Thank you again Ascension Parish, a small idea sitting at my desk over two weeks ago, turned out to be one of the most joyful experiences in my life. Yes, this Parish as a whole made a difference, and you know what? That’s all that matters in this life. Let’s all go out and continue to make a difference.

Fire Chief / Constable James E. LeBlanc

September 14, 2017