Executive Director Rev. David Goodine has reached retirement after nine years of service, with Deputy Director Kurt Jostes stepping up to take his place. Jostes is in his 12th year of service as a member of the RAI Ministries / Camp Restore – New Orleans staff.
From Pastor Goodine, Executive Director Emeritus
It has been nine years, August of 2010, since I was called to be Executive Director of RAI Ministries/Camp Restore. I am now retiring from that post and there are a great many memories that I carry forward from my time here. I was in New Orleans during Katrina at St Paul Lutheran Church and could not really fathom the damage that was done to the city. People were talking about years and years of recovery. In our little enclave it was a different story since we did not flood. Wind damage was enough.
I got to see that five years after the storm, Camp Restore still had its work cut out for it. I do not really know how many thousands of people came through camp during my tenure. What I do know is that Bob and I would sit down in August and reflect a bit on what a blessing it is to be working in this place. We get to work with highly motivated people, giving of themselves to help people recover, and they deem this a privilege. I had a great position and I was blessed to be in it. We worked on the homes of people, brought them home and blessed the places where they would live. We worked on Trinity Lutheran Church in the Lower Ninth Ward and with the help of many other partners, especially the Chicago Area Mission Partnership, to restore Trinity and ensure its place as a place that serves the community. I got to spend time with volunteers in cooking, serving, and working in our community. They were of all ages and backgrounds. What a blessing they were to me and to all of us.
Camp Restore had interns from Lutheran colleges, from Germany, and from the Lutheran Young Adult Corps while I was at camp. We also had New Orleanian interns through the Kellogg Foundation’s Young Men’s Voices have Power initiative. I was blessed to be able to give them a little insight while gaining much for myself. I have truly been blessed to be with RAI Ministries here in New Orleans.
I pass the mantle of leadership on to Kurt Jostes with the greatest confidence that our work is in good hands. We have come a long way, but there is much more to do on many fronts. I look forward to hearing about the work of restoration being done in areas that we might not think of off the cuff. There is much left to do, and I thank God I had a chance to do some of that. I pray that God will continue to bless the work that we have done together and will continue to do in the years to come.
Peace and blessings,
From Kurt Jostes, Executive Director, Camp Restore – New Orleans (RAI Ministries, Inc.)
Over 12 seasons at Camp Restore – New Orleans, I’ve witnessed the incredible faith, resiliency and determination of New Orleanians combine with the energy of thousands of volunteers from across the country and around the world.
Amidst hurricanes, oil spills, termite swarms, tornados and rainwater floods, I’ve seen hundreds of homes restored, our elders and children cared for, wetlands reforested and countless grassroots service projects completed. Plus a Super Bowl win and 12 Mardi Gras seasons for a little lagniappe.
FEMA trailers and piles of debris in front yards were replaced with dumpsters, drywall dust and the buzzing of generators, which in turn were replaced by the flurry of activities by which we now work to strengthen our community. There’s a lot going on in this pot of gumbo.
Looking back, the damage from the levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina was an acute problem that arose from systemic human failure at multiple levels. These challenges – manmade wetlands loss and environmental damage, governmental corruption, poverty and systemic racism among them – are not exclusive to New Orleans. We’ve made improvements in many of these areas since Katrina, but still have significant work to do. Our tough lessons here offer an opportunity to educate and inspire similar locally-led change in other communities, like Detroiters are now doing at Camp Restore Detroit.
As a port city of the Mighty Mississippi, New Orleans connects shipping from the heart of the United States with the world. At Camp Restore – New Orleans, we connect a world of volunteers with the heartbeat of our city.
I can’t predict what the future holds, but I do know how we will welcome tomorrow as the Camp Restore – New Orleans family. We’ll start with our tradition of hospitality, fuel up with classic New Orleans home-cooking and finish with partnerships in service alongside our friends and neighbors, both old and new.
There’s no escaping simple truths of humanity here: We are imperfect; we make mistakes… but we also tap into an incredibly-deep reserve of love, for God and for one another.
Thank you for your partnership, and special thanks to Pastor Goodine, who led us a tremendous distance while setting a great example.
I look forward to the next chapter of our journey together!