Beyond the Final Frontier

Blogs, The Latest

For my latest blog, I’m turning things over to Bill Mattheessen, President at Prince of Peace (home to Camp Restore) and our most-dedicated local volunteer, to share a bit of his story.

by William Mattheessen

For the first part of the Camp’s life I was very busy with putting men into space safely. I was a Flight Safety Engineer & Metallurgist for the Space Shuttle External Tank, working several miles further east [from Camp] at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) and living in Slidell.

NASA-Michoud-Assembly-Facility-New-Orleans-East

Then the last tank was shipped in 2010; I was the Safety Engineer that shipped it out. I was terminated and started volunteering more at the Camp. Thus ended a 28-year Aerospace career.

The External Tank for the final Space Shuttle flight on its way to a barge in New Orleans East, which will transport it to Florida.

The External Tank for the final Space Shuttle flight, in New Orleans East, on its way to a barge which will transport it to Florida.

How did I get started with the Camp over 7 1/2 years ago? I rented the building to Camp Restore as I was President and on the church council of Prince of Peace. Writing this gets difficult as images flash in my mind: the job I was doing the last Friday before the storm [Katrina], working on the pipe organ that last Saturday and listening to the storm tracks [predictions].

Then evacuation and then realizing we would not be coming home any time soon, followed by a 3-hour trip from Slidell to MAF when we could get back, and then the gutting of the church.

Then came hope, as folks cleaned the buildings out and started rebuilding the sanctuary and school building. All the folks coming down, helping those who needed it.

Prince-of-Peace-Restored

This is very different from my last job, as everyone I worked with came from a hard-science/engineering background. Most days I spend around the office, doing research on various issues, such as building permits or the never-ending and forever-changing Camp work list.

Other days it is maintenance around the site or helping others. This goes on even when there are not folks in the camp.

Bill-Mattheessen-Camp-Restore

Now, I also got to do a photo shoot when Miss America visited Camp Restore, so there’s always something new and different going on.

The last several weeks the big task was getting the pipe organ refurbished. I am glad to report all the hardware is on site and the new pipe ranks installed; now comes several weeks of wiring, then tuning.

Hope to see you at Camp sometime soon!

-Bill

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